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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Why some reforms prompted by police brutality are being rolled back - The Washington Post

Killings by police brought reforms. Fear of crime is unraveling them.

"Some changes were rolled back after complaints that police are too restricted. Officials say other changes amount to fine-tuning.

Rodney and RowVaughn Wells, the stepfather and mother of Tyre Nichols, attend a state House session on March 4, 2024, in Nashville. Nichols was beaten by five Memphis police officers during a traffic stop and died of his injuries in January 2023 (George Walker IV/AP)

RowVaughn Wells traveled to the Tennessee Capitol last week hoping to preserve the small silver lining that emerged from the death of her son, who was fatally beaten last year after being pulled over by Memphis Police. In his memory, the city passed the Tyre Nichols Driving Equality Act, barring officers from conducting certain traffic stops for low-level violations, among other measures.

But now state lawmakers are advancing legislation that would nullify the Memphis law. On Monday, state Rep. John Gillespie (R), the bill’s sponsor, ran into Wells and her husband in the Capitol, where they had come to bear witness to debate on the legislation.

Gillespie appeared taken aback at seeing them, Wells recalled in an interview, then collected himself.

“I hope you understand,” he said.

“I don’t,” she shot back.

Gillespie’s measure is part of a groundswell of legislative and voter pushback against reforms initiated over the past four years after the police killings of Black Americans including Nichols, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Each killing stunned Americans and inspired activism, rioting and a racial reckoning that translated into hundreds of bills aimed at curtailing law enforcement powers and reshaping how police do their jobs.

In some cases, lawmakers and voters now say those changes needed to be fine-tuned to work well. In others, they are trying to address community backlash at measures that have been labeled anti-police, as well as a perception that crime has worsened while police have been hamstrung by policy changes.

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban civilian-run police review boards. Louisiana legislators voted in favor of a law that would make it harder to sue police officers; cities including Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles have restored police funding that was cut after Floyd was killed.

Under pressure to address high-profile incidents of crime on New York’s subway system, Gov. Kathy Hochul last week said she would send the National Guard underground to help police with random searches of riders’ bags. San Francisco voters last week approved loosening the rules around police surveillance and allowing officers to pursue suspects in their cars even for some misdemeanor violations. And in Washington, D.C., lawmakers passed a massive public safety bill that increases punishments for a range of crimes and adjusts or walks back accountability measures that addressed police transparency and rules for neck restraints and vehicular pursuits.

In Tennessee, Gillespie declined an interview request, but explained his bill in a written statement that said Memphis, where crime has ticked up in recent years, has become “a safe haven for criminals.”

“We cannot allow any local government to embolden criminals by nullifying our state laws and demonizing law enforcement,” he wrote.

President Biden pushed back against the notion of rising crime in his State of the Union address Thursday evening, pointing to a sharp decrease in the national murder rate and a national decline in violent crime “to one of the lowest levels in more than 50 years.”

Lt. Tracy McCray, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, acknowledged that crime is down in San Francisco, but described walking down the street and seeing people under the influence of drugs. She cited personal experience with car break-ins — her own car window was smashed — as part of the reason she supported the policing changes passed by voters in “Proposition E,” which, among other things, expanded the use of vehicle pursuits to “violent misdemeanors.”

“It’s so in-your-face,” McCray said. “We’re still a compassionate city. We want to help people. But at what point do you have to draw the line?”

In D.C., last year’s homicide spike gave officials fodder to argue that funding cuts to the city’s police force have damaged public safety. Other lawmakers and researchers say it is too early to make that correlation, pointing to other factors like disruptions to schools and social services caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), a lawyer, was elected in 2020, weeks after Floyd’s murder. At the time, she voted in favor of sweeping police reform and accountability laws.

Years later, she joined a D.C. police officer for his night shift. She said the officer shared his frustration about a new rule for police body cameras, which barred officers from reviewing the footage. The change was an attempt to keep officers accused of wrongdoing from being able to prepare for questioning by reviewing what had happened. But officers also relied on the footage to write accurate reports.

Pinto this year spearheaded “Secure D.C.,” the sweeping bill that passed the council in a near-unanimous vote last week and, among many other things, would allow police to review their body-camera footage in all cases except those involving serious or deadly use of force.

“We right-sized some of those interventions in a more balanced and appropriate way,” Pinto said. “We have not swung the pendulum back entirely.”

Ward 2 D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto, with then-D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III in 2021, led the push for a bill that will toughen the District's criminal code. (Craig Hudson for The Washington Post)

Major measures still in place

Policing experts warned against viewing the recent policy shifts as a complete reversal of legislative gains in the fight for police reform.

Both San Francisco and D.C. have been at the forefront of large-city police reforms for decades. Officers in San Francisco have been banned from aggressively chasing suspects in vehicles and shooting into moving vehicles since 2013; in Washington, chokeholds have been outlawed since 1985.

“It’s not going to be NASCAR running through the streets,” McCray said of San Francisco’s newly amended pursuit laws. “Give us a little credit here.”

Both cities have kept major measures passed in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder. In D.C., the mayor’s office still releases within five business days of the incident names and body-camera footage of officers who used serious or deadly force, and the department can still discipline officers with less involvement from the police union.

In San Francisco, officers are still instructed to limit how often they conduct traffic stops for low-level offenses and to obtain approval from the civilian police commission if the department wants to implement new surveillance technology. The city is still diverting mental health-related calls away from police to specialized teams without armed officers, a change launched after Floyd’s death.

But advocates and experts said there is still much work to be done to improve policing. Even in politically liberal communities that have long welcomed police accountability measures, entrenched biases and constitutionally unsound traditions can counteract legislative changes, they said. And with the failure of the federal George Floyd Policing Act, which was backed by Biden and most Democrats, many parts of the country never felt the policing changes of 2020 and beyond.

In deep-red Tennessee, where Republicans control the branches of state government, the political will that opened the door to sweeping changes to police practices in Memphis following Nichols’s death appears to be running aground.

RowVaughn and Rodney Wells said they went to Nashville on Monday to voice their displeasure with Gillespie’s bill. During their visit, they said, Gillespie approached the couple and promised to hear out their concerns about the legislation, which bars cities and localities from passing their own laws limiting traffic stops.

He invited them to join him again in Nashville at the end of the week, they said, then told them he was pushing back the vote, so they could come at a later time.

Yet on Thursday the House approved the legislation, 68-24, and sent it to the state Senate.

“He gave his word and he lied,” RowVaughn Wells said. “He put up a smokescreen in order for us not to return to Nashville.”

“He knew it would be harder for him to go ahead with the bill with our presence,” Rodney said.

Gillespie did not respond to The Washington Post’s questions regarding his statements to Wells and his actions on the House floor. Accused on the House floor last week of lying to Nichols’s family, Gillespie denied he’d promised to delay a vote until next week, according to local news reports.

Demonstrators protest the death of Tyre Nichols along Riverside Drive in Memphis on Jan. 27, 2023. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)

Few other state legislatures have gone as far as Tennessee’s to challenge the ability of local lawmakers to reimagine the role of police. Across the country, most rollback efforts have been more precisely targeted.

In Washington state, legislators have twice amended a 2021 law that allowed car chases only when officers had “probable cause” to believe a person in the vehicle had committed a violent crime. Last week, they changed the law to allow chases when officers have “reasonable suspicion” the occupant committed a crime.

Leslie Cushman, policy lead for the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability, which organized in 2020 after Floyd’s death, said the group is disappointed by the rollback but encouraged that the legislature also provided for funds to study the outcomes of police chases.

Police groups trying to change the pursuit law had rallied public support by sharing body camera videos on social media that showed officers declining to pursue egregious violators  sending a message that the streets were increasingly unsafe.

Such pushback has prompted Cushman’s group to focus on ensuring the implementation and maintenance of its prior gains, rather than advocating for broader changes like ending qualified immunity, a legal framework that protects law enforcement officers from civil liability for their actions.

Some of the group’s allies in the legislature, she said, don’t have the stomach for that fight.

“‘Copaganda’ is a very powerful tool,” she said.

In his State of the Union speech, Biden pledged to “help cities and towns invest in more community police officers.” That irked activists who have campaigned in recent years to replace traditional policing with a heavier reliance on social services.

The “Defund the Police” movement fell far short of those goals. But that hasn’t stopped conservative lawmakers from blaming the effort for a perceived rise in street violence.

While individual cities like Washington and Memphis have seen crime spikes, violent crime on a national scale dropped significantly last year, according to preliminary data sources. The FBI reported after the third quarter of 2023 that violent crime was down 8.2 percent nationwide over 2022, in both big and small population areas, with homicide down 15.6 percent. A Major Cities Chiefs Association survey of the 69 largest cities showed homicide down 10.4 percent, and violent crime down 2.4 percent in big cities.

Criminologist Charis Kubrin of the University of California at Irvine said California crime trends are at “historic lows” too, yet people in general remain “extremely concerned about crime,” in part because horrific stories of violence are often amplified on social media and in news reports.

“There is always a disconnect between perceptions of crime and data,” Kubrin said. “Most people get their information on crime from headlines and politicians.”

Phillip Atiba Solomon, chair of African American Studies and professor of psychology at Yale University and a co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity, said the national discourse around crime is plagued by the general belief that the most effective reaction to crime is to increase the ability of law enforcement to fight it.

A better approach, Solomon said, addresses poverty as a root cause of criminal activity.

“We’ve had a failure to launch a more humane approach to communities that are going to produce more violence because they’ve been burdened with the violence of poverty for generations,” Solomon said. “Instead, we end up with some regulations on policing and none of the much more expensive investments in community.”

In the aftermath of unjustified police killings, the first reform measures often address the law enforcement tactics that led to the deaths. Those changes are vulnerable when communities raise concerns over crime, Solomon said.

For RowVaughn Wells, it’s the latest roadblock in an agonizing odyssey to make her personal loss a community’s gain.

“This is not just about our son,” Wells said of her efforts to keep Memphis’s new police ordinances in place. “This is about every Black and Brown person that lives in Memphis and around the world, because we know police officers harass Black and Brown people for nothing.

“Our son’s name is on this ordinance, and they want to erase that.”

Why some reforms prompted by police brutality are being rolled back - The Washington Post

Too Smart To Be A Cop?

Forty-five-year-old Corrections Officer Robert Jordan believes he has been discriminated against after the city of New London, Conn., deemed him too smart to be an enforcement officer and denied him employment.

After he filed a lawsuit, the federal judge dismissed it, ruling that the police department's rejection of Jordan did not violate his rights. Jordan strongly disagrees and tells CBS This Morning's Thalia Assuras why. 

"I was just taken aback," Jordan says.  "Philosophically, I found it offensive to the entire profession of law enforcement. We all know talented, intelligent people that pursue successful careers in law enforcement."

In May 1997 Jordan filed a lawsuit against the New London Police Department for denying him the opportunity of becoming a law enforcement officer in the city where he was born and raised and which he still lives nearby.

"I just couldn't accept it. And I found out there is absolutely no evidence.Â…There is no connection between your basic intelligence and job satisfaction or longevity on the job," he says.

Jordan was deemed too smart for the police force because he received a high score on an intelligence test. Jordan, then 45, scored a 33, the equivalent of having an IQ of 125. 

The average score nationally for police officers as well as for office workers, bank tellers and salespeople is 21 or 22, the equivalent of having an IQ of 104.

The city's rationale for the long-standing practice is that candidates who score too high could get bored with police work and quit after undergoing costly academy training.

Recently U.S. District Judge Peter C. Dorsey ruled the New London Police Department's rejection of Jordan, because of his high IQ test score, was not in violation of his rights. 

The court dismissed his lawsuit Aug. 31 and his attorney informed him on Wednesday.

Jordan feels the New London policy is ludicrous primarily because the city, through President Clinton's Fast Cop Program, received federal money to hire new recruits for the police academy, he says.

"I don't think it's setting really good seeds for the future of [its] public employees in the town, " he adds.

Jordan is not new to law enforcement. He had served as a part-time officer in Groton Long Point, Conn., in 1989. 

In 1993 he became a seasonal officer for the Department of Environmental Protection, which takes care of law enforcement in state parks. He never took off a single shift, he says. 

Jordan was never late and he felt he really did his job well. So when he decided to try for his local police force, he thought it could turn into something good, he says.

He is currently a corrections officer for the state of Connecticut, on the line, in direct contact with prisoners. 

Jordan would love to appeal but the cost of litigation may be too much for him, although he has not ruled out the option, he says.

Too Smart To Be A Cop?

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