When Cops Commit Crimes

Inside the first database that tracks America’s criminal cops Twelve years ago, a criminal justice master’s student named Philip Stinson got into an argument with his grad school classmates about how often police officers committed crimes. His peers, many of whom were cops themselves, thought police crime was rare, but Stinson, himself a former cop and attorney, thought the problem was bigger than anyone knew. He bet a pint of ale that he could prove it. On Tuesday, Stinson made good on his … [Read more...]

Cops and the Mentally Ill: Finding a New Approach

On December 19, 2013, a man stood on the ledge of a bridge in Spokane, Wash., threatening to jump. Responding officers knew that if they tried to grab him, he would step off the ledge and fall into the river below. Instead, they spent almost 90 minutes listening and talking to him, in the hopes of calming him down. Their efforts at empathy worked. The man eventually allowed himself to be taken into custody. He was placed in an ambulance, and driven to a nearby hospital. The officer who talked … [Read more...]

Waiting for a Perfect Protest?

Media outlets and commentators representing a range of political persuasions have called attention to recent outbreaks of violence in Berkeley, Calif., Boston and other locations where anti-racist and anti-fascist demonstrators have gathered. Intentionally or not, they have often promoted a false equivalency between groups that advocate white supremacy and those that seek to eliminate it. Even mainstream media outlets that typically fact-check the president seem to have subtly bought into Mr. … [Read more...]

A Fetishization of “Law and Order”

Trump wants nothing more than an unaccountable Joe Arpaio and the militarization of the police On Friday night, as Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who had been convicted of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a 2013 order by a federal judge to stop racial profiling. By shielding a rogue official from legal sanction and accountability, Trump once again asserted just how much he fetishizes the shallow, … [Read more...]

Why Do Cops Need Bayonets?

Um, because they’re free Although Michigan Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard runs one of the nation’s largest sheriff’s offices — with about 1,400 officers stationed a few miles northwest of Detroit — he spends a lot of time in Washington. During the waning days of the Obama Administration, Bouchard, who is also chair of government affairs of the Major County Sheriff’s Association of America, engaged in a succession of heated debates with senior White House and Justice Department officials who … [Read more...]

What’s Good About Trump and Charlottesville

Why we should be glad Trump isn't backing down from blaming 'both sides' for Charlottesville t the risk of sounding like I agree with Donald Trump, I have to say that his empathy with and unapologetic embrace of white supremacists has had its good points. I don’t mean that he is correct — the barely disguised racist attitudes in his pugnacious “both sides” are to blame remarks and his hand-wringing over the removal of Confederate statues are wrong. They’re unconscionable. But in the prolonged … [Read more...]

Chokehold: Policing Black Men and Women in America

US justice is built to humiliate and oppress black men. And it starts with the chokehold hokehold: a maneuver in which a person’s neck is tightly gripped in a way that restrains breathing. A person left in a chokehold for more than a few seconds can die. The former police chief of Los Angeles Daryl Gates once suggested that there is something about the anatomy of African Americans that makes them especially susceptible to serious injury from chokeholds, because their arteries do not open as … [Read more...]

Innocence Is Irrelevant

This is the age of the plea bargain—and millions of Americans are suffering the consequences. t had been a long night for Shanta Sweatt. After working a 16-hour shift cleaning the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, in Nashville, and then catching the 11:15 bus to her apartment, she just wanted to take a shower and go to sleep. Instead, she wound up having a fight with the man she refers to as her “so-called boyfriend.” He was a high-school classmate who had recently ended up on the street, so … [Read more...]

Can a Civilian Persuade L.A. Cops to Stop Shooting?

It’s 11 a..m. on a Tuesday last March, and Matthew Johnson, the president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, is seated front and center with the four other part-time civilian commissioners in a large theater-style meeting room at the LAPD’s headquarters downtown. On today’s agenda is approval of a potentially historic new policy intended to decrease the high number of LAPD shootings. But as has been the case for years now, the angry, overwhelmingly black, overflow crowd is hurling … [Read more...]

Let Black Kids Just Be Kids

George Zimmerman admitted at his 2012 bail hearing that he misjudged Trayvon Martin’s age when he killed him. “I thought he was a little bit younger than I am,” he said, meaning just under 28. But Trayvon was only 17. What may be most tragic about Mr. Zimmerman’s miscalculation is that it’s widespread. To many people, black boys seem older than they are: In one study, people overestimated their ages by 4.5 years. This contributes to a false perception that black boys are less childlike than … [Read more...]