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Category Archives: Miltarization Of Our Police Force

Average Americans Commit 3 Felonies a Day

Violent crime is down America, across the board, spanning two decades. Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced that the incidence of reported rape had hit a 20-year low. Homicides are down, as are juvenile violence and crimes committed against children. Crime rates have been plummeting since the early 1990s to such an extent that explaining the drop has become something of an obsession among criminologists and sociologists.

Part of the drop can of course be explained by mass incarceration—America leads the world in the percentage of its population behind bars. Putting one in every 100 citizens in jail causes its own problems, and there’s plenty of debate over just how much that incarceration has contributed to the fall in violent crime. But there’s no question that we’ve put lots of people in prison over the last 20 years, the crime rate has fallen, and part of the public likely believes (with some justification) that there’s a link betweent the two.

But there’s something else going on too, picked up in the blogosphere last week by George Washington University political science Professor John Sides. According to Gallup, since 2002 the percentage of the American public who think violent crime is on the rise has been increasing, even as actual violent crime rates continue to fall. Sides notes that from 1989 to 2001, perception and reality somewhat went hand in hand. But 2002 to 2003 saw a 19 percent leap in public perceptions that violent crime was on the uptick, and the figure has been going up in the years since—to 74 percent today. What’s going on?

From the time Richard Nixon made crime a national political issue in the 1970s, we’ve been conditioned by politicians and public officials to live in perpetual fear. Our baseline is that there’s too much crime, and that we aren’t doing enough about it. Despite that, there was an actually drop in public worry about crime that began in 1992 and continued until 2002. As noted, that drop corresponded with an actual decline in the national crime rate, something that hadn’t happened in 30 years. That crime rates going down for the first time in a generation was something new, something worth noticing. The 1990s were also generally an optimistic decade. The economy was humming. We weren’t engaged in any major wars. We didn’t have many worries, period.

Post-2002, the national mood soured. Terrorism, obviously a form of violent crime, was all over the news. The economy slowed down. Illegal immigration once again became a national issue, along with the false assumption that undocumented immigrants bring violent crime. And so we returned to a state of fear, though the crime rate continued to fall.These fluctuations in the Gallup poll are interesting, but it’s worth noting that the percentage of respondents who believe violent crime is on the rise has dipped below 60 percent only three times since 1991. This, again, despite the fact that violent crime has been in decline over the entire period.

Fear makes for easy politics. It both wins votes and primes us to give government more power at the expense of personal liberty. And that’s certainly true when it comes to crime. With the possible exception of an incumbent mayor, politicians only benefit from exaggerating the threat of violent crime. Senators, Congressmen, and even governors are rarely held responsible when the crime rate goes up. But they do win votes by proposing new powers for police and prosecutors to bring it down.

The result has been a one-way ratchet effect on crime policy. We’re perpetually expanding police and prosecutorial power, a process only occasionally slowed by the courts. Congress and state legislatures rarely take old criminal statutes off the books, but they’re always adding new ones. A 2008 report from the Heritage Foundation estimates that at the federal level alone, Congress has been adding about 55 new crimes to the federal criminal code each year since the 1980s. There are now about 4,500 separate federal crimes. And that doesn’t include federal regulations, which are increasingly being enforced with criminal, not administrative, penalties. It also doesn’t include the increasing leeway with which prosecutors can enforce broadly written federal conspiracy, racketeering, and money laundering laws. And this is before we even get to the states’ criminal codes.

In his new book, the Boston-based civil liberties advocate and occasional Reason contributor Harvey Silverglate estimates that in 2009, the average American commits about three federal felonies per day. And yet, we aren’t a nation of degenerates. On the contrary, most social indicators have been moving in a positive direction for a generation. Silverglate argues we’re committing these crimes unwittingly. The federal criminal code has become so vast and open to interpretation, Silverglate argues, that a U.S. Attorney can find a way to charge just about anyone with violating federal law. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for some business owners to comply with one federal regulation without violating another one. We’re no longer governed by laws, we’re governed by the whims of lawyers.Whatever one may think of Ayn Rand’s political philosophy or ethics, her criminal justice prophecy has proven unsettlingly accurate: In our continuing eagerness to purge American society of crime, we’ve allowed the government to make us all into criminals.

“There’s no way to rule innocent men.
The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals.
Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them.
One declares so many things to be a crime
that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

Ayn Rand 

‘Bomb Robot’ Takes Down Dallas Gunman, but Raises Enforcement Questions

The Dallas police ended a standoff with the gunman suspected of killing five officers with a tactic that by all accounts appears to be unprecedented: It blew him up using a robot.

In doing so, it sought to protect police who had negotiated with the man for several hours and had exchanged gunfire with him. But the decision ignited a debate about the increasing militarization of police and the remote-controlled use of force, and raised the specter of a new era of policing.

The Dallas police chief, David O. Brown, said officers had used one of the department’s “bomb robots,” attaching an explosive device to its arm that was detonated early Friday when the robot was near the gunman. “Other options would have exposed the officers to grave danger,” he said.

But the decision to deliver a bomb by robot stunned some current and former law enforcement officials, who said they believed the new tactic blurred the line between policing and warfare.

How the Dallas Shooting Unfolded

The attack was the deadliest against law enforcement officers in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.

By YOUSUR AL-HLOU and JOHN WOO on Publish Date July 8, 2016. Photo by William Widmer for The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »

They said that it might have been an excessive use of force and that it set a precedent, adding that they were concerned that other departments across the country could begin using the same tactic.

“The further we remove the officer from the use of force and the consequences that come with it, the easier it becomes to use that tactic,” said Rick Nelson, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former counterterrorism official on the National Security Council. “It’s what we have done with drones in warfare.”

“In warfare, your object is to kill,” he added. “Law enforcement has a different mission.”

Other law enforcement officials supported the decision, suggesting they could take a similar approach if the situation called for it. At a news conference on Friday, New York’s police commissioner, William J. Bratton, said that while he was waiting to find out precisely what the Dallas police did, “we have that capability.”

“This is an individual that killed five police officers,” he added. “So God bless ’em.”

The use of the robot and explosive device comes amid questions about whether police departments, which have bought equipment from the Pentagon that was part of efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, have become too militarized. During the turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., two years ago, local law enforcement quelled protests with military-style equipment, angering many who said they felt intimidated. The Obama administration has declined to stop the Pentagon from selling the equipment, saying that a vast majority of it strengthens local policing.

While Chief Brown offered no additional information about the use of the robot, it appeared that officers had repurposed a remote-controlled bomb disposal vehicle that is normally used to inspect dangerous crime scenes or pick up suspected explosive devices for detonation or dismantling

The decision to use the robot in this way left many questions unanswered, including whether a sniper could have shot the gunman. Also, it was not clear why the police did not wait him out.

One expert in legal issues and robotics said he thought the use of the robot was justified, and saw little difference between its use and having a sniper shoot from a distance.

“No court would find a legal problem here,” said Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington law school. “When someone is an ongoing lethal danger, there isn’t an obligation on the part of officers to put themselves in harm’s way.”

There are other significant issues that arise when using an explosive device, according to current and former law enforcement officials. Explosions can destroy property and cause fires.

One of the few instances in which a police force used explosives occurred in 1985, when Philadelphia officers bombed the headquarters of a self-styled black liberation group, Move. Eleven members of the group, including five children, were killed, and a fire spread through the neighborhood, destroying more than 60 homes.

Graphic

How the Attack on the Dallas Police Unfolded

Five officers were killed and seven others were shot during a protest in downtown Dallas.

OPEN Graphic

The Move explosives were dropped by helicopter. Using a police robot “has probably never been done before,” said Robert Louden, former chief hostage negotiator for the New York Police Department and a former professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

But bomb disposal robots have been used to deliver objects to suspects, hostages and others, or to distract or communicate with suspects.

Last year, a man with a knife who threatened to jump off a bridge in San Jose, Calif., was taken into custody after the police had a robot bring him a cellphone and a pizza as part of efforts to talk him down.

In November 2014, the Albuquerque police used a robot to “deploy chemical munitions,” in the words of a department report, in a motel room where a man had barricaded himself with a gun. He surrendered.

Mr. Louden said he did not think the Dallas police had planned to use the robot to deliver a bomb. Rather, he said, at a point where negotiations with the suspect broke down, the officers in charge had to decide what to do about it.

“Are we going to endanger an officer?” Mr. Louden said about the police officers’ thinking. “Or do we try something that’s a little bit unique, but in all probability withstands legal tests for justification of use of force?”

Michigan Deputy Resigns To Avoid Being Fired After Questionable Stop

A Michigan deputy who resigned to avoid termination after he was caught on video pulling a man out of a car for asking a simple question is now working for another law enforcement agency, despite the fact he has an established reputation for aggressive and unprofessional behavior towards citizens.

But considering his new employer, the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office, is looking into introducing body and dash cams for its deputies, we will likely see more videos of his aggressive behavior in the future.

However, his previous employer, the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office, had also required him to wear a body cam – which he was not doing on June 16, 2014 when he pulled over Todd Micheal Brenizer for a broken tail light.

But unknowing to Brown, Brenizer was recording the traffic stop, which is what led to him resigning.

Brenizer, who was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction, was cleared of those charges when he showed prosecutors the video.

He is now negotiating a settlement with Eaton County, according to Lansing City Pulse.

The video begins showing Brenizer upset at Brown’s aggressive attitude and the fact that he did not even give him a chance to search for his proof of insurance.

In the video, Brenizer is explaining what had taken place before he started recording when Brown returns with citations for a broken taillight and failure to provide proof of insurance.

Brenizer attempts to ask several questions including his name and badge number, but Brown tells him that information is on the citation.

Brenizer agains requests more information as Brown demands he move his vehicle or go to jail.
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Brown then starts yelling, “get the fuck out of the car or you’re going to jail.”

Brown then flings open the door while Brenizer remains adamant that he had done nothing wrong.

After a brief struggle, Brenizer is forced out and ordered to lay down on the ground.

In Brown’s arrest report, he stated that he “Brenizer had a right to ask him questions but instructed him to leave as he was blocking the roadway.”

He then said that “he refused and I grabbed him to escort him out of the vehicle and he pulled me into the vehicle,” which is how he justified the resisting arrest and obstruction charges.

Eaton County sheriff officials said that Brown had been required to wear a body camera due to a previous instance of unruly behavior with another citizen, but he had failed to do so.

Questions remain why Brown was not charged with false arrest or filing a sworn affidavit against Brenizer, but we can surmise it was an extension of Blue Privilege, which is all to common in the profession.

Brown’s resignation did not prohibit him from obtaining a position at Lenawee County Sheriff’s Department, yet one more Blue Privilege.

The first video below is edited to get right to the part when Brown pulls Brenizer out the car. The second video is the longer version.

It was just over a year ago when another Eaton County sheriff’s deputy named Jonathan Frost pulled over a teenager named Deven Guilford over for flashing his high beams at him, resulting in the deputy shooting and killing the teen.

CALL LENAWEE OR SEND AN EMAIL TO TELL THEM HOW WE FEEL ABOUT DEPUTY GREG BROWN!

Sheriff Jack Welsh: 517.264.5368

Deputy Gregory Brown
Phone: 517-263-0524 ext: 2178
greg.brown@lenawee.mi.us

FOUR YEARS IN PRISON For ‘Annoying’ a Cop? Here’s Why This POLICE STATE Law Is NOTHING NEW!

The New York State Senate has voted that it should be a felony to “annoy” police officers. The New York State Senate passed a bill this week that “creates the crime of aggravated harassment of a police or peace officer. The bill (S.2402), sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) would make it a felony to harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty.

“Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection, and those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions.”

The bill establishes this crime as a Class E Felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

“At a time when shocking incidents of disrespect and outright confrontation are at an all-time high, the men and women who patrol the streets of our cities deserve every possible protection we can offer them,” Senator Griffo stated. “My bill would make it a crime to take any type of physical action to try to intimidate a police officer. This is a necessary action because we can see from the rise in incidents that too many people in our society have lost the respect they need to have for a police officer. We need to make it very clear that when a police officer is performing his duty, every citizen needs to comply and that refusal to comply carries a penalty.”

Utica New York Police Department Chief Mark Williams said he is “grateful” to see this bill pass through the Senate. Williams explains that, “Our police officers have a very dangerous job” he explained, adding that they “need the support of our government leaders to help make them safe.”

He adds, “All too often persons are physically challenging police officers in the line of duty. Currently in those instances where an officer is physically attack [sic] (short of sustaining a physical injury) the lawful charge is only a violation. The consequences are way too low for the offender and it sends the wrong message to the public.”

The message, apparently, should be that beating your wife is a lesser offense than “annoying” a cop.

“Citizens do not have the legal right to physically challenge the authority of an officer lawfully performing their duties,” Williams added. What he did not explain, however, is how prosecuting “annoyance” is now equal to prosecuting “physical threats.”

“Threats, intimidation and physical force used upon our police officers not only erode respect for our criminal justice system, but also endanger the public as well.”

This is a classic false equivalency fallacious argument. But the police aren’t asking our opinion of the bill; they are telling us the way that it’s going to be.

Here’s how the legislation reads, according to the New York state legislature web site:

Screen-Shot-2013-06-06-at-11.46.07-AM-e1370533665789

To further complicate this issue, it is illegal for firearms to be purchased by felons. As “annoying” a cop would be a felony under this law, it may well become controversial among gun owners as well. The bill, if passed, would allow police to strip people of the right to own a weapon based on whether or not they “annoy” them.

But beyond this issue is the fact that this law would only formalize what has been the policy of so many police officers all along. We have seen Police CHOKE an African American CHILD holding a puppy for simply giving them ‘Dehumanizing Stares’. For many, if the police want to arrest you, they simply charge you with “disorderly conduct” for taking a tone they do not like. The onus is on the accused to prove their innocence and such charges are typically raised against those least able to afford a descent attorney to argue their case.

This bill would bring such practices of rogue elements of law enforcement out of the shadows. It would mainstream such discrimination and normalize police state abuses. When coupled with New York City’s existing “Stop and Frisk” policies, this bill has many asking just how much more totalitarian things can get?