Jan 152015
 

At least 10,000 civil rights complaints are filed for police misconduct each year, yet the total prevalence of this crime remains uncertain. Complaints of police abuse often arise from traffic stops and street encounters. Critics claim people of color experience the abuse of police power much more frequently than their peers. From Rodney King’s beating to Eric Garner’s chokehold, many say video recordings are the only way police misconduct will be brought to justice. Cell phone and police cameras may provide the greatest deterrent to police misconduct –providing both indisputable evidence of abuse, as well as confirmation of the proper use of force. Several recent studies report that public complaints of police misconduct have dropped between 40% and 60%, and in some cases up to 80%, in cities where officers wear body cameras. However, some advocates don’t believe cameras are the final answer to our police misconduct problem, saying grand juries very rarely indict police officers for killing citizens regardless of evidence. They claim local prosecutors have an inherent conflict of interest when deciding to indict a police officer because of their close working relationship with police departments fighting everyday crime. Advocates claim they are reluctant to prosecute officers and jeopardize this relationship, saying independent special prosecutors should present cases of alleged police misconduct to grand juries, not local prosecutors.

Some say our current peace officers are more willing and likely to use lethal force due to the militarization of their departments since 9/11. Examples include the death of James Boyd, an unarmed, non-threatening homeless man shot in the back multiple times by several Albuquerque peace officers; the death of unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown, his arms likely raised above his head when shot multiple times by a Ferguson peace officer; the Beavercreek Walmart police shooting death of John Crawford III, talking on his phone while holding a BB gun the store had for sale; and 12-year old Tamir Rice, holding a pellet gun and killed within 2 seconds of the arrival of a Cleveland police officer judged unfit for duty 2 years earlier. Advocates claim these cases are only a very small fraction of the several hundred similar police shootings which occur each year. They say it seems that “multiple shots by multiple officers” has replaced police attempts to de-escalate situations, shoot someone with a Tasar, or in the leg. One recent study revealed that about one in eight victims shot to death by police since 2012 was mentally ill or in severe mental distress. Few police officers are disciplined for suspicious shootings and indictments are extremely rare.

Normally, the use of lethal force is authorized as a progressive series of actions, referred to as the “use of force continuum.” It broadly limits the use of force to what is reasonable and necessary for the situation. The use of lethal force is only supposed to be used as a last resort and to prevent the loss of life. Seattle’s P.D. has recently adopted a new use of force policy in which peace officers are expected to de-escalate potentially violent situations and issue warnings wherever appropriate. All uses of force are required to be reported and documented, and all officers will be issued at least one non lethal weapon such as a Taser, baton or pepper spray to be appropriately used under the department’s new guidelines. However, guidelines governing the use of excessive and lethal force are not standardized for all police departments.

Pending Legislation:
H.R.5407 – TIP Act of 2014 (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof

I oppose reforming current police misconduct policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill which makes the receipt of Federal funding to law enforcement agencies conditional upon state and local law enforcement agencies adopting standardized use-of-force guidelines modeled after Seattle’s police department; and requiring state attorney general offices to prosecute cases of alleged police misconduct in which a police officer is involved in a person’s death.

I support studying the cost of the purchase and use of body cameras by state and local law enforcement agencies, and to require law enforcement agencies to purchase and use body cameras as a condition on the receipt of Federal funding, and wish to identify a legislator who will either reintroduce H.R.5407 – TIP Act of 2014 (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There are several definitions of racial or religious profiling. One is a police action that is initiated against a person because of that person’s appearance rather than what that person is doing. Police defend the use of racial profiling as a necessary and legitimate law enforcement tool which has deterred and reduced crime. Civil rights advocates claim racial profiling is unconstitutional, racist, and used to harass law-abiding Americans. They say minorities are often viewed suspiciously for no apparent reason other than their race. They claim racial profiling is based on stereotypes and rarely leads to serious criminal convictions. They also say that police actions directed against innocent people often alienate entire communities and are thus counterproductive to effective law enforcement. Besides African Americans and others, many Muslim Americans have also complained that they have experienced unjust racial profiling and discrimination since 9/11. For over 10 years, the police officers of the New York City, Philadelphia and other cities have practiced a “stop and frisk” policy in which they stop and search people not engaged in, or suspected of, committing a crime. Opponents say nearly 700,000 people were stopped in 2011 alone, and more than 5 million unjustified stops have been made during the course of this program. Most of those searched were African American or Latino. The NYPD defends this policy and claims that between 2002 and 2012, one in eight people who were stopped were accused of at least a minor crime. Critics say very few weapons were found during these controversial searches. Moreover, the rate of weapons confiscated from white “suspects” (1.4%) was greater than the rate for minorities (1%). The Supreme Court has ruled that police do not have to wait until a crime has been committed but can make stops based on suspicion that a crime is about to occur. A federal judge declared stop-and-frisk searches unconstitutional but did not halt this discriminatory practice. New York’s mayor has promised to “reform” the overuse of NYPD stop-and-frisk searches. He also withdrew the previous administration’s appeals of the federal court ruling.

Pending Legislations:

S.1038 & H.R.2851 – End Racial Profiling Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current racial profiling policy and wish to defeat S.1038 & H.R.2851

I support prohibiting any law enforcement agent or agency from engaging in racial profiling, granting the United States or an individual injured by racial profiling the right to obtain declaratory or injunctive relief, requiring state or local governmental entities that apply for federal grants to certify that they maintain adequate policies and procedures for eliminating racial profiling and have eliminated any existing practices that permit or encourage racial profiling, and wish to identify a legislator who will either reintroduce S.1038 or H.R.2851 – End Racial Profiling Act of 2013 (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Among other things, the safety and effectiveness of our police officers depend upon how well they are trained to do this difficult job. In addition to traditional knowledge requirements, today’s police officers must know how to operate databases, investigate computer, Internet and white-collar crime, and help perform DNA testing. Fighting terrorism has also been added to this list. Many police departments are now practicing a philosophy known as community based policing. This approach encourages police and communities to work together in solving crime and safety problems in a way that improves the quality of life for all. These communities receive a voice in planning their own safety needs, while police receive the community’s help holding down crime figures. These policies are said to be effective in reporting and preventing violent crimes that have traditionally not been reported, including crimes against women.

Pending Legislation:
H.R.421 – COPS Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2013 (113th Congress 2013-2014),

H.R.3069 – Shield Our Streets Act of 2013 (113th Congress 2013-2014),

I oppose reforming current police training policy

I support reauthorizing and improving the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant program which provides for the hiring of law enforcement officials and school resource officers, and wish to identify a legislator who will either reintroduce H.R.421 – COPS Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2013 (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof

I support awarding grants to assist the law enforcement agencies in high-crime communities with hiring and training new law enforcement officers and with rehiring career law enforcement officers who have been laid off as a result of budget reductions; awarding grants for purchasing public safety equipment, funding public safety programs, making infrastructure improvements, purchasing and installing lights to deter crime, funding activities related to crime labs, funding public defender programs, and wish to identify a legislator who will either reintroduce H.R.3069 – Shield Our Streets Act of 2013 (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof.

 Posted by at 12:00 am