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 Kingâ€™s beating to Eric Garnerâ€™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 â€“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 donâ€™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 â€œmultiple shots by multiple officersâ€ 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 â€œuse of force continuum.â€ 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. Seattleâ€™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 departmentâ€™s new guidelines. However, guidelines governing the use of excessive and lethal force are not standardized for all police departments.
H.R.5407 â€“ 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 Seattleâ€™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 personâ€™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 â€“ TIP Act of 2014 (113th Congress 2013-2014), or a similar version thereof