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The Ferguson Kleptocracy

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In Ferguson and the Modern Debtor’s Prison I wrote:

You don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant “low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.”

The DOJ report on the Ferguson Police Departmentverifies this in stunning detail:

Ferguson has allowed its focus on revenue generation to fundamentally compromise the role of Ferguson’s municipal court. The municipal court does not act as a neutral arbiter of the law or a check on unlawful police conduct.

… Our investigation has found overwhelming evidence of minor municipal code violations resulting in multiple arrests, jail time, and payments that exceed the cost of the original ticket many times over. One woman, discussed above, received two parking tickets for a single violation in 2007 that then totaled $151 plus fees. Over seven years later, she still owed Ferguson $541—after already paying $550 in fines and fees, having multiple arrest warrants issued against her, and being arrested and jailed on several occasions.

Predatory fining was incentivized:

FPD has communicated to officers not only that they must focus on bringing in revenue, but that the department has little concern with how officers do this. FPD’s weak systems of supervision, review, and accountability…have sent a potent message to officers that their violations of law and policy will be tolerated, provided that officers continue to be “productive” in making arrests and writing citations. Where officers fail to meet productivity goals, supervisors have been instructed to alter officer assignments or impose discipline.

Excessive, illegal and sometimes criminal force was used routinely:

This culture within FPD influences officer activities in all areas of policing, beyond just ticketing. Officers expect and demand compliance even when they lack legal authority. They are inclined to interpret the exercise of free-speech rights as unlawful disobedience, innocent movements as physical threats, indications of mental or physical illness as belligerence. Police supervisors and leadership do too little to ensure that officers act in accordance with law and policy, and rarely respond meaningfully to civilian complaints of officer misconduct. The result is a pattern of stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment; infringement on free expression, as well as retaliation for protected expression, in violation of the First Amendment; and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Here is one example:

In January 2013, a patrol sergeant stopped an African-American man after he saw the man talk to an individual in a truck and then walk away. The sergeant detained the man, although he did not articulate any reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. When the man declined to answer questions or submit to a frisk—which the sergeant sought to execute despite articulating no reason to believe the man was armed—the sergeant grabbed the man by the belt, drew his ECW [i.e.taser, AT], and ordered the man to comply. The man crossed his arms and objected that he had not done anything wrong. Video captured by the ECW’s built-in camera shows that the man made no aggressive movement toward the officer. The sergeant fired the ECW, applying a five-second cycle of electricity and causing the man to fall to the ground. The sergeant almost immediately applied the ECW again, which he later justified in his report by claiming that the man tried to stand up. The video makes clear, however, that the man never tried to stand—he only writhed in pain on the ground. The video also shows that the sergeant applied the ECW nearly continuously for 20 seconds, longer than represented in his report. The man was charged with Failure to Comply and Resisting Arrest, but no independent criminal violation.

Here is another, especially interesting, example:

While the record demonstrates a pattern of stops that are improper from the beginning, it also exposes encounters that start as constitutionally defensible but quickly cross the line. For example, in the summer of 2012, an officer detained a 32-year-old African-American man who was sitting in his car cooling off after playing basketball. The officer arguably had grounds to stop and question the man, since his windows appeared more deeply tinted than permitted under Ferguson’s code. Without cause, the officer went on to accuse the man of being a pedophile, prohibit the man from using his cell phone, order the man out of his car for a pat-down despite having no reason to believe he was armed, and ask to search his car. When the man refused, citing his constitutional rights, the officer reportedly pointed a gun at his head, and arrested him. The officer charged the man with eight different counts, including making a false declaration for initially providing the short form of his first name (e.g., “Mike” instead of “Michael”) and an address that, although legitimate, differed from the one on his license. The officer also charged the man both with having an expired operator’s license, and with having no operator’s license in possession. The man told us he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government as a result of the charges.

Although the report says the initial stop was constitutionally defensible, the initial stop was also clearly bullshit. “The officer arguably had grounds to stop and question the man, since his windows appeared more deeply tinted than permitted under Ferguson’s code.” Deep tinting!!!

Missouri, like most states, has a window tint lawwhich essentially requires that tinting not be so dark as to impede the ability of the driver to see out of the car. Ok. But why does Ferguson have a window tint law! What this means is that you can be fined for driving through Ferguson for window tinting which is legal in the rest of Missouri. Absurd.  Correction: the code appears to be the same as the state code but passed as a municipal ordinance so fines were collected locally. The purpose of the law was simply to extract more blood:

NYTimes: Last year Ferguson drivers paid $12,400 in fines for driving cars with tinted windows. They paid another $4,905 for loud music coming out of their cars.

The abuse in Ferguson shouldn’t really surprise us–this is how most governments behave most of the time. Democracy constrains what governments do but it’s a thin constraint easily capable of being pierced when stressed.

The worst abuses of government happen when an invading gang conquer people of a different race, religion and culture. What happened in Ferguson was similar only the rulers stayed the same and the population of the ruled changed. In 1990 Ferguson was 74% white and 25% black. Just 20 years later the percentages had nearly inverted, 29% white and 67% black. The population of rulers, however, changed more slowly so white rulers found themselves overlording a population that was foreign to them. As a result, democracy broke down and government as usual, banditry and abuse, broke out.

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robespinosausatest
2880 days ago
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popular
2894 days ago
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5 public comments
brico
2893 days ago
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"Failure to comply"
Brooklyn, NY
glenn
2893 days ago
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And yet nothing seems to be done about any of this...
Waterloo, Canada
kazriko
2895 days ago
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Ferguson should follow some of its neighbouring counties and outsource their policing, and ditch their police/court system entirely.
Colorado Plateau
StatsGuru
2896 days ago
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Seems like everything is a crime in Ferguson.
sashae
2896 days ago
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awful
new york, ny

The Thin Blue Line of Entitlement

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Something unnatural is happening in Portland, and Police Union President Daryl Turner isn't going to put up with it.

The proper order of things is upended. Black is white and white is black, cats and dogs cohabit. Madness!

A judge has disbelieved a cop.

Last week Circuit Judge Diana Stuart acquitted teenager Thai Gurule on juvenile charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, and attempted assault on a cop. She acquitted him even though the cops said he did it.

Is Judge Stuart some sort of pro-criminal agitator? Apparently. In an extensive written order she weighed the testimony of sworn police officers against irrelevant trifles like actual videorecordings of their encounter with Gurule. Even though the cops swore that Gurule threw punches at them, Judge Stuart disbelieved them simply because she could not see any punches on the cell phone videos. Is she some sort of video-fisticuffs expert? Worse than that, she specifically stated that she didn't find some of their testimony credible. As if they weren't cops.

But Police Union President Daryl Turner understands the natural order of things, even if this upstart judge doesn't.

First, Turner understands that when a cop uses force, that decision should be beyond judicial review, and their description of the event beyond question:

What is most discouraging is that when police officers respond to a call, those officers must now be concerned that someone sitting in hindsight, from the safety of a courtroom, will not only question their actions, but also their credibility.

Second, Turner understands that it is outrageous to say that a police officer's testimony might be untrue:

As a fact-finder, Judge Stuart may have disagreed with Sergeant Lille and Officers Hornstein and Hughes, but her disagreement with the officers' actions should not be a mark on their credibility.

Third, Turner understands what evidence is. Evidence is what a cop says it is, not what somebody thinks they can see on a video recording of events. Normal people can't see threats like cops can. They're invisible.

However, in this case, it was unfair and in conflict with well-established legal principles to question the credibility of the police officers involved in this case based on shaky cell phone video footage filmed from some distance away. Graham v. Connor states that the reasonableness of a use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions as to the amount of force necessary in that particular situation. In other words, the officers' reasonable perceptions count, not video footage.

Fourth, Turner understands that being beaten and charged with a crime is insignificant next to the pain of negative public perception. The so-called system gives punks all sort of rights before you can jail them — but where is the due process before cops are subjected to skepticism?

What is also problematic is the uneven playing field that officers now operate under. A civilian charged with a crime, such as Mr. Gurule, is presumed innocent until proven guilty. On the other hand, with the national furor surrounding allegations of excessive force, police officers are now presumed guilty of misconduct and must prove that they acted appropriately.

Fifth, Turner knows that police are not merely entitled to our compliance. They're not merely entitled to our unquestioning obedience. No, police have a right for us not to hold evil thoughts about how they are part of a sick, brutal, lawless culture. That must end!

However, the presumption is that we want to harm the very people we are sworn to serve and protect. That sentiment must end. Not only is it untrue and unfair, it creates an insurmountable obstacle for police officers who simply want to do their jobs.

Turner is rightfully concerned. But rest easy, brave defender! This is America, and this acquittal is an aberration. Soon order will be restored, and we'll be back to the norm: police officers will be offered the privileges they deserve, people who dissent will find their place, cops' rights to vigorous self-defense will be unquestioned, and the world will remember that a cop's testimony is by definition the truth.

h/t Clark

The Thin Blue Line of Entitlement © 2007-2014 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

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robespinosausatest
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popular
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dukeofwulf
2882 days ago
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A case study on how grating long-term sarcasm can be. Also, how to cite your own website seven times in the space of a few paragraphs.
petrilli
2883 days ago
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Someone get Daryl Turner a fainting couch. Cops lie. Maybe as much, or even more than the average person—especially when it comes to defending their own.
Arlington, VA

95% of Climate Models Agree: The Observations Must be Wrong « Roy Spencer, PhD

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Comments: "95% of Climate Models Agree: The Observations Must be Wrong « Roy Spencer, PhD" climate models agree: the observations must be wrong"

URL: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2014/02/95-of-climate-models-agree-the-observations-must-be-wrong/


I’m seeing a lot of wrangling over the recent (15+ year) pause in global average warming…when did it start, is it a full pause, shouldn’t we be taking the longer view, etc.

These are all interesting exercises, but they miss the most important point: the climate models that governments base policy decisions on have failed miserably.

I’ve updated our comparison of 90 climate models versus observations for global average surface temperatures through 2013, and we still see that >95% of the models have over-forecast the warming trend since 1979, whether we use their own surface temperature dataset (HadCRUT4), or our satellite dataset of lower tropospheric temperatures (UAH):

Whether humans are the cause of 100% of the observed warming or not, the conclusion is that global warming isn’t as bad as was predicted. That should have major policy implications…assuming policy is still informed by facts more than emotions and political aspirations.

And if humans are the cause of only, say, 50% of the warming (e.g. our published paper), then there is even less reason to force expensive and prosperity-destroying energy policies down our throats.

I am growing weary of the variety of emotional, misleading, and policy-useless statements like “most warming since the 1950s is human caused” or “97% of climate scientists agree humans are contributing to warming”, neither of which leads to the conclusion we need to substantially increase energy prices and freeze and starve more poor people to death for the greater good.

Yet, that is the direction we are heading.

And even if the extra energy is being stored in the deep ocean (if you have faith in long-term measured warming trends of thousandths or hundredths of a degree), I say “great!”. Because that extra heat is in the form of a tiny temperature change spread throughout an unimaginably large heat sink, which can never have an appreciable effect on future surface climate.

If the deep ocean ends up averaging 4.1 deg. C, rather than 4.0 deg. C, it won’t really matter.

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