Saturday, June 27, 2020

Justice in Policing Act 2020-Are We Still Holding Bad Apples Accountable?

I'm looking through the Decorate Bill and the Republican Bill to gain a better understanding of the two bills. The Democrat Bill is much more comprehensive. I don't know if everything will work the way it is intended and if it passes there is likely to be some adjusting. What keeps rolling around in my mind is that much is focused on use of force and on minority communities. We know that is a problem....and we know that bad apples are bad apples and they are likely to have a pattern of abusive behavior in their positions. That likely impacts almost multiple communities they deal with because it is part of their personality and self-perceptive schema (i.e. people with perceived differences seen as the "other" might receive similar treatment).

When working in law enforcement I believe its important to have integrity and be honest and forth-write in all actions. People with negative dispositions and a bent toward abuse play in the grey areas and like to circumvent the intentions of the law as much as possible without actually breaking the law. So if you have an officer with a terrible reputation of misconduct, have specific information of misconduct, and incidents that don't use deadly force but are nevertheless morally reprehensible and most likely illegal there is no way to hold them accountable?

What I see in the Bill is this....

It appears from this information that much is in aggregate data. What many politicians don't complete grasp is the subjective nature of data. There are latent variables which can't be directly observed and require a focus in scrutiny to actually find the misconduct. While most officers do what is intended by the spirit of the law there are those who take pleasure in regularly thwarting it to make themselves look good, help their friends, cover criminal acts, and much more.

The essential question I have is, "How do you hold them accountable?"

If we as a nation want people to trust law enforcement and work with them so we can keep people out of prisons while keeping our communities safe we have to really think about what occurs on a source level. For every 1 death at the hands of a police officer there may have been 10, 20, 30 other incidents that would have create a hierarchical hidden Markovian direction. Thus, that officer could have been counseled, trained, or fired long before they took the next abusive step that led to death or injury.

Such individuals also destroy the culture of a department because they are often very loud and aggressive with their tactics which leads others to the assumption that such behaviors are acceptable. Its a personality type that starts in teen years and carries on throughout their lives. Thus, removing/helping such bad actors quickly is important to help the entire department succeed and raise its public perception. A positive public perception of also raises the quality of recruiting candidates (more and better).

So if a person running a department knows that a bad actor is among them it is important for them as a senior leader to investigate and take action. While outside organizations can help where senior leadership fails, it is still up to senior police leadership to manage their employees and their culture well. I have some real life examples where senior leadership did the right thing and de-escalated situations. On the flip side, I have examples where an individual officer has a historical sequence of poor behavior and no action was taken.

Protect and Serve means we must create the right environment to raise the value and standard of the profession to achieve those ends. Supporting our officers and supporting the public are one and the same. We shouldn't forget that research supports the idea that a strong Justice System also helps create economic growth. There are studies that show countries with poor justice systems and high levels of corruption lead to poor economic growth. Do you think this could be a factor in our slow growth rates? I'm not sure even the economists can truly answer that one but we can say its hinted in the data.

Basics of the Bill:

Justice in Policing Act of 2020
This bill addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It includes measures to increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct, to enhance transparency and data collection, and to eliminate discriminatory policing practices.
The bill facilitates federal enforcement of constitutional violations (e.g., excessive use of force) by state and local law enforcement. Among other things, it does the following:
  • lowers the criminal intent standard—from willful to knowing or reckless—to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution,
  • limits qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer or state correctional officer, and
  • authorizes the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for a pattern or practice of discrimination.
The bill also creates a national registry—the National Police Misconduct Registry—to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct.
It establishes a framework to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state, and local levels.
The bill establishes new requirements for law enforcement officers and agencies, including to report data on use-of-force incidents, to obtain training on implicit bias and racial profiling, and to wear body cameras.
 H.R.7120 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020Sponsor: Rep. Bass, Karen [D-CA-37] (Introduced 06/08/2020) Cosponsors: (230)Committees: House - Judiciary; Energy and Commerce; Armed ServicesCommittee Reports: H. Rept. 116-434Latest Action: House - 06/25/2020 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. (All Actions)

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