Pat Buchanan: Is Biden Ceding the Law-and-Order Issue?

From Pat Buchanan, Is Biden Ceding the Law-and-Order Issue?

Eventually, the country is going to go with law and order, for, no matter how the liberals’ recoil from the phrase and its associations with Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, without law and order there is no justice and there is no peace. What Nixon said in ’68 remains true: “The first civil right of every American is to be free from domestic violence.”

Is Joe Biden forfeiting the law-and-order issue to Donald Trump?

So it would seem.

“Republicans Use Law and Order As Rallying Cry” was the top headline on The New York Times’ front-page story on Vice President Mike Pence’s acceptance speech at Fort McHenry Wednesday night.

The Wall Street Journal Page One headline echoed the Times: “Pence Accepts Nomination as GOP Puts Focus on Police.”

In his address, Pence charged Biden with sinning by silence in failing to denounce the rioters, looters and arsonists who have for months attacked police and pillaged Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Kenosha and other cities.

Said Pence: “Last week, Joe Biden did not say one word about the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country.

“Joe Biden says that America is systemically racist, and that law enforcement in America has… ‘implicit bias against minorities.’ When asked whether he’d support cutting funding to law enforcement, Joe Biden replied, ‘Yes, absolutely.’

“Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to unsafe streets and violence in American cities. … You will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

Now, it is inexact to say Biden would “defund” the police. When the big agenda item of Black Lives Matter was first raised, Biden rushed to say he would reform the police and increase spending.

And, late Wednesday afternoon, probably after seeing an advance of Pence’s speech, Biden tweeted from Delaware about the chaos that has engulfed Kenosha since Sunday night’s police shooting of Jacob Blake:

“Needless violence won’t heal us. We need to end the violence.”

Biden’s belated and tepid condemnations of the riots and pillaging of America’s cities by “peaceful protesters” gone rogue night after night testifies to the dilemma in which he finds himself.

It is three months since George Floyd ceased to breathe under the knee of that Minneapolis cop. But it is also three months to the election. And the political tide is turning, visibly and hard, against the arsonists and anarchists conducting the nightly rampages against cops across America.

The weariness of the public with the riots is palpable. The claim that these are but the understandable excesses of “peaceful protests” is getting stale. And the reaction against the riots and ruin in the Black communities, for whom they are allegedly being conducted, is growing.

Black leaders in urban areas are saying we want good cops, but we also want more cops to protect our people from gun-toting gangbangers who are running up rising weekly kill rates.

Tuesday, video surfaced of a mob of radicals surrounding, berating, cursing and threatening a woman at a D.C. diner. Her crime? She had refused to submit to demands she raise her fist in a Black Power salute and proclaim, “Black Lives Matter!”

“White silence is violence!” screamed the mob.

It looked like a training exercise for aspiring Nazi Brown Shirts.

We are beginning to see how this all unfolds. And from here, it looks like the Democratic left is going to be the loser on all counts.

First, the big mandate — “Defund the police!” — has backfired.

The Biden media daily testify to its unpopularity by insisting Biden never endorsed it. Where police department budgets have been cut, shooting and homicide rates have soared. And Biden’s refusal to endorse the mandate tells you what Democrats’ polls are telling them.

The police bill passed by Nancy Pelosi’s House featuring restrictions on chokeholds has been ignored by the Senate, and Republicans do not appear to be suffering for having ignored it.

The smashing of statues, which has escalated from Columbus to Catholic missionaries and saints, to Confederate generals and statesmen like Lee, Jackson and Jefferson Davis, to the four presidents on Mount Rushmore — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, TR — is now seen even by liberal elites as excessive.

Eventually, the country is going to go with law and order, for, no matter how the liberals’ recoil from the phrase and its associations with Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, without law and order there is no justice and there is no peace. What Nixon said in ’68 remains true: “The first civil right of every American is to be free from domestic violence.”

The mega-demand of BLM and its collaborators — reparations for slavery and segregation — is not wildly popular. Yet, reparations, which ultimately involves trillions in wealth transfers, is an issue on which Biden will have to choose between the Bernie-BLM-AOC wing of his party and the Scranton Democrats among whom he was raised.

The decisive question:

Are the nation’s police forces shot through with systemic racism and overpopulated by white cops who relish using violence on Black folks? Or are our police the first of the first responders, the thin blue line standing between America and anarchy?

The Republicans have chosen. They stand with the cops.

And if and when Biden comes out of the basement again, he is going to have to take a stand. Declaring evenhanded neutrality won’t cut it.

EFF: Searchable Database of Police Tech Tools Used to Spy on Communities

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that is has launched an online map overlay of police tools being used for surveillance across the US in EFF Launches Searchable Database of Police Agencies and the Tech Tools They Use to Spy on Communities.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in partnership with the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, today launched the largest-ever collection of searchable data on police use of surveillance technologies, created as a tool for the public to learn about facial recognition, drones, license plate readers, and other devices law enforcement agencies are acquiring to spy on our communities.

The Atlas of Surveillance database, containing several thousand data points on over 3,000 city and local police departments and sheriffs’ offices nationwide, allows citizens, journalists, and academics to review details about the technologies police are deploying, and provides a resource to check what devices and systems have been purchased locally.

Users can search for information by clicking on regions, towns, and cities, such as Minneapolis, Tampa, or Tucson, on a U.S. map. They can also easily perform text searches by typing the names of cities, counties, or states on a search page that displays text results. The Atlas also allows people to search by specific technologies, which can show how surveillance tools are spreading across the country.

Built using crowdsourcing and data journalism over the last 18 months, the Atlas of Surveillance documents the alarming increase in the use of unchecked high-tech tools that collect biometric records, photos, and videos of people in their communities, locate and track them via their cell phones, and purport to predict where crimes will be committed.

While the use of surveillance apps and face recognition technologies are under scrutiny amid the COVID-19 pandemic and street protests, EFF and students at University of Nevada, Reno, have been studying and collecting information for more than a year in an effort to, for the first time, aggregate data collected from news articles, government meeting agendas, company press releases, and social media posts.

“There are two questions we get all the time: What surveillance is in my hometown, and how are technologies like drones and automated license plate readers spreading across the  country?” said Dave Maass, a senior investigative researcher in EFF’s Threat Lab and a visiting professor at the Reynolds School of Journalism. “A year a half ago, EFF and the Reynolds School partnered to answer these questions through a massive newsgathering effort, involving hundreds of journalism students and volunteers. What we found is a sprawling spy state that reaches from face recognition in the Hawaiian Islands to predictive policing in Maine, from body-worn cameras in remote Alaska to real-time crime centers along Florida’s Gold Coast.”

Information was collected on the most pervasive surveillance technologies in use, including drones, body-worn cameras, face recognition, cell-site simulators, automated license plate readers, predictive policing, camera registries, police partnerships with Amazon’s Ring camera network, and gunshot detection sensors. It also maps out more than 130 law enforcement tech hubs that process real-time surveillance data. While the Atlas contains a massive amount of data, its content is only the tip of the iceberg and underlines the need for journalists and members of the public to continue demanding transparency from criminal justice agencies. Reporters, students, volunteers, and watchdog groups can submit data or share data sets for inclusion in the Atlas.

“The prevalence of surveillance technologies in our society provides many challenges related to privacy and freedom of expression, but it’s one thing to know that in theory, and another to see hard data laid out on a map,” Reynolds School Professor and Director of the Center for Advanced Media Studies Gi Yun said. “Over a year and a half, Reynolds School of Journalism students at the University of Nevada, Reno have reviewed thousands of news articles and public records. This project not only informs the public debate but helps these students improve their understanding of surveillance as they advance in their reporting careers.”

For the Atlas:
https://atlasofsurveillance.org

For more on street-level surveillance:
https://www.eff.org/issues/street-level-surveillance

Cato Institute: ‘Defund the Police’ Is a Bad Slogan, but Some Aspects Are Worth Considering

Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Michael Tanner at the Cato Institute has an article on how it may be better for different agencies to respond to certain non-violent incidents in ‘Defund the Police’ Is a Bad Slogan, but Some Aspects Are Worth Considering.

As a branding idea, “Defund the Police” may be the worst slogan since New Coke, but as a policy matter, it is something most California communities should consider.

California spends more than $41 billion on law enforcement at the state, county and municipal levels. This at a time when rates of violent crime are at historic lows. Even property crime, which has edged up in some jurisdictions such as San Francisco, remains extremely low.

Of course, no one is suggesting these communities zero out their policing entirely, but it raises questions about local priorities and how police are best deployed.

Law enforcement dispatching records show police being assigned tasks they are not equipped for – wellness checks, mental illness, drug overdoses, dealing with the homeless – on top of traffic accidents and citations. The Los Angeles Police Department’s dispatches throughout 2018 show that only 12% of dispatches were for violent crimes, compared to almost 40% for nonviolent complaints and 38% for property crimes.

Los Angeles’ police dispatches also reveal that, although only a small fraction of the total, almost 10,000 dispatches involved juveniles. Rather than sending police, it seems social workers or others with appropriate training should respond.

Ultimately, police are not equipped to deal with most non‐​criminal issues. Too often, police involvement turns otherwise non‐​violent situations deadly, as in the case of Stephon Clark, whose killing by Sacramento police spurred reforms to California’s police use of force law.

The officers who killed Clark were using a helicopter to track a suspect accused of breaking car windows. While theft and vandalism are obviously wrong, using deadly force and a helicopter to track low‐​level crime suspects can hardly be considered fiscally sound, let alone justice.

This is especially salient when new technologies give police myriad non‐​lethal options – why, then, does California’s default response to so many crimes involve lethal weapons?

Moreover, police response to non‐​criminal calls are more likely to occur in low‐​income or communities of color, which often aren’t equipped to deal with these problems through other mechanisms. This causes ongoing friction between the community and a police force that often resembles an occupying army.

When people talk about defunding the police, they are suggesting that not every domestic disturbance, traffic mishap or truant youth needs to be confronted by someone resembling RoboCop. Mental health professionals and social service personnel – without guns – may well be better suited to dealing with non‐​violent, non‐​criminal situations.

Therefore, what “defund the police” really means is reducing police budgets, while transferring funds, where appropriate, to alternative programs and responses. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposal for police reform is perhaps closer to the slogan, with funding for health, jobs and other programs paid for by cuts to LAPD’s budget. While the $150 million from police budgets is more than half of the $250 million he is proposing for new programs, it constitutes less than a tenth of the city’s $1.7 billion fiscal year 2019 appropriation for policing.

In recent years, California has made tremendous strides toward criminal justice reform. The state has shifted away from incarceration, and crime remains low. Propositions 47 and 57 seem to be working. And, by legalizing recreational marijuana, California removed one source of over‐​criminalization. The state’s 2019 law reforming police standards for using deadly force is already a nationwide model, although it did not go as far as some reformers hoped. In some ways, California is a model for criminal justice reform nationwide.

Still, the state started with such a severely flawed system that reform is not done. Recent demonstrations are not just a reaction to events in Minneapolis, but to ongoing injustices and disparate treatment across California.

Clearly the police are not going away. Nor should we simply throw money at mental health, education and other social welfare programs without taking a hard look at their effectiveness. But a little police defunding might not be the craziest thing California communities can do.

See also, Intelligencer: Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics

FEE: Police Accountability Begins With Ending Qualified Immunity

Ben Harris at the Foundation for Economic Education writes that Police Accountability Begins With Ending Qualified Immunity

Following the death of George Floyd, peaceful—and less than peaceful—protests have broken out across the country against what is perceived as an abusive police system that often absolves officers of wrongdoing, sometimes in the most egregious cases. To address unjust policing and restore public trust will require big changes in state and federal policy, as well as in police practice.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has just passed on an opportunity to effect such change. Several petitions requesting the Court to re-examine a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity were recently denied, leaving little hope that the Court will take the lead on needed reform. Only Justice Clarence Thomas voiced dissent.

Qualified immunity grants police officers and other government officials immunity against civil lawsuits in the exercise of their responsibilities, subject to key limitations. Among the limitations outlined originally by Congress, a police officer loses immunity when he or she, “subjects… any citizen of the United States or other person within… to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.”

Over the years, the Court has functionally neutered Congress’s original objective of holding public officials accountable for the violation of civil rights. As the case law has developed, the police and other officials receive immunity unless the facts indicate a constitutional right has been violated and the right was “clearly established” at the time of the misconduct.

The term “clearly established” is the minnow that has swallowed the whale.

To determine whether the right was clearly established, it must either be established by statute or case law. But which case law? The Supreme Court can “clearly establish” something as a right, but it rarely does so. Appeals courts have held they can clearly establish a right, but the Supreme Court has cast this assertion into doubt. So the lower courts are left with a Catch-22. They cannot enforce a right without it being established, but the only way to establish the right is to enforce it.

This has led to some of the most egregious case law in recent history. For example, the Cato Institute cites a Ninth Circuit case that alleged the police stole $250,000 in cash from homeowners. “The three‐​judge panel held that while theft may be “morally wrong,” the officers could not be sued because the Ninth Circuit had never specifically considered the issue, and therefore the right not to have police steal your property while executing a search warrant was not “‘clearly established’ in that jurisdiction.” Additionally, the Supreme Court has aggressively policed qualified immunity, supporting officers and dismissing petitions of citizens that would establish those rights.

We do not tolerate such behavior among private citizens; even less should we tolerate it among public servants, who, if anything, should be held to higher standards, not lower. Yet, the current state of the law holds officers to standards lower than is reasonable even for basic citizenship, let alone for their profession, and to avoid facing personal liability for their actions. While doctors and other health care professionals, lawyers, and even general laborers are held to standards of reasonableness appropriate to their work environment, often a more exacting standard, law enforcement is given a bar so low that nearly all conduct clears it.

When the Court created qualified immunity, its concern was that public officials would be deterred from executing their important responsibilities if mired in lawsuits. The Court’s concern is not completely unfounded. Law enforcement is a dangerous job and imposing the cost of a potential civil suit could discourage people from becoming police. However, these concerns are mitigated when provided additional context.

First, policing is not as relatively dangerous among professions as is commonly held. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate that log workers, fishery workers, aircraft engineers, roofers, garbage collectors, and many others all have more dangerous jobs than the police.

Second, the risks and costs of civil lawsuits can be managed through insurance markets, just as it is for other professions. Such insurance markets could also be a further check on police abuse. As Clark Neily of the Cato Institute has written:

Like police, doctors have a difficult and stressful job that sometimes involves making life‐​or‐​death decisions under conditions of uncertainty. But unlike police, doctors don’t expect the rest of us to pay for their mistakes. Instead, doctors carry professional liability insurance, which pays to defend them against malpractice claims and protects them from financial ruin by paying out damage awards to successful plaintiffs.

Insurance companies are exceptionally good at identifying risk. Think about car insurance. The more accidents or speeding tickets a driver has had, the higher their premiums will be. The same is true for teenagers, who tend to get in more wrecks than adults and therefore represent a greater risk to the insurance company.

Instead of spreading those risks among all of their policyholders, insurance companies charge risky drivers more while giving a break to their safest drivers, who pay less.

…insurance companies have powerful incentives to identify the greatest risks — whether drivers, doctors or cops — and charge them accordingly. If cops had to carry insurance, the worst offenders would quickly be identified and charged higher rates. If they failed to clean up their act, they would eventually become uninsurable and thus unemployable.

Currently, qualified immunity pushes the cost of police misbehavior onto victims and the public, but because those costs are diffused among many and the benefits concentrated among a few, it is difficult to muster the political momentum necessary to turn it around. Politics remains a barrier to reform.

Additionally, reducing police accountability in the short term is not only unjust, it also undermines the objectives of those who tolerate high leeway for the police. When members of society do not trust that law enforcement will be held accountable for its failings, mostly at the expense of a few, then it impacts the ability of law enforcement to protect people. When law enforcement is truly needed, such as to control rioting and violence, trust that any aggressive interventions are fair and reasonable will have already been compromised, which in turn leads to less trust and more potential rioting, which leads to more heavy-handed police interventions and so forth.

Abolishing qualified immunity raises the costs of misbehavior. And as the cost of abuse increases so will the reputation of law enforcement as an institution that serves all, as bad actors are priced out of the occupation.

But now the cycle is spinning in the opposite direction, largely due to qualified immunity. And it will continue to spin out of control until steps are taken to restore accountability for, and thus trust in, law enforcement.

Access to justice is a sign of an inclusive civilized society, and righting harms through civil law plays an important part in curbing injustice and providing redress to the injured. The Supreme Court has created a system that undermines Congress’s original intent to hold law enforcement accountable and denies civil law remedies to those who have been wronged.

Fortunately, Rep. Justin Amash has introduced a bill to end qualified immunity. Since the Court has proven derelict in its responsibility to defend the constitutional rights of Americans, it is now up to Congress to decide whether they will fulfill that duty.

LawOfficer.com: Officer Defends The Constitution & Placed On Leave Pending Termination

An article from LawOfficer.com about Port of Seattle Officer Greg Anderson – Officer Defends The Constitution & Placed On Leave Pending Termination

Port of Seattle Police Officer Greg Anderson filmed an inspirational, timely and truth filled video on May 5th.

Similar to what we have been saying here at Law Officer, he questioned why law enforcement around the country was enforcing newly invented rules in light of COVID-19.

“That is not how our job works okay, what really has been pissing me off lately is the fact that these officers that are going out here and enforcing these tyrannical orders… what they’re doing is they’re putting my job and my safety at risk because what you’re doing is your widening the gap between public trust and law enforcement officers,” said Anderson. He went on to say, “I want to remind you that regardless of where you stand on the coronavirus we don’t have the authority to do those things to people just because a mayor or a governor tells you otherwise I don’t care if it’s your sergeant or your Chief of Police we don’t get to violate people’s constitutional rights because somebody in our chain of command tells us otherwise it’s not how this country works those are de facto arrests you know we’re violating people’s rights.”

The next day, Greg woke up and received a message from his chain of command thanking him for a job well done.

He was relieved because like we often discuss in the Courageous Leadership Seminar, law enforcement is often crucified for telling the truth.

Three hours after he was told by his department they were in full support of his video,  Greg got a call instructing him to take down the video.

He refused.

By the next day the video had reached 430,000 views and the agency flat out told him “is time to pull the plug on this.”

Greg responded that “maybe we should embrace this message.”

A few hours later he was told that if if he didn’t take it down immediately and accept a letter of reprimand, the department would take a much harsher approach.

Greg refused to remove the video in part because of the content of that video.

DONATE TO OFFICER ANDERSON HERE

“I thought it was grounded in liberty and integrity and that no one would have issue with it,” Greg says.

“I had to be willing to die on that hill,” Anderson stated.

“The whole message I was trying to share that if you believe something in your heart you have to stand by that message, even if it costs you everything.”

With that, Greg told his boss, “I can’t take the video down.”

His Chief told him, “If you openly defy your Governor, you can’t be a police officer in the State of Washington.”

As is usual in the weak and cowardly leadership that has permeated this fine profession, Greg was subsequently placed on leave and threatened with termination.

Greg says “that I cannot afford to lose my job.”

He has kids and a house but he is steadfast in his beliefs.

And for that Greg Anderson is a hero.

In a statement, Anderson wrote, “I’ve received tons of questions regarding my termination from the Port of Seattle Police. So I figured I should explain. I have been placed on administrative leave (still being paid) pending investigation. I was told by both the agency and my union that this will result in termination due to it being an insubordination charge for refusing to take down the video. I’m not sure what the timeline looks like. I walk un-intimidated into the fray. Thank you for all the support.”

The Port of Seattle Police Department has refused to comment.

Sultan Knish: Portland is Killing Itself

Daniel Greenfield at Sultan Knish blog has an article up describing how Portland’s progressive policies are destroying a once beautiful city – Escape from Portland. I used to love a trip to Portland — visit awesome bookstore Powell’s, visit one of the many good restaurants like Ox or maybe some of their nice food trucks — but it hasn’t been the same the last few years.

Officials say that although their “no-turn-away shelter strategy” failed spectacularly, they want it to be adopted state-wide and nationally.

It was a big year in Portland where the murder rate rose 18.6%. That was the perfect time for Portland’s progressive politburo to spend over $1 million on unarmed cops armed only with pepper spray.

There was a little bit of excitement when it was learned that their 200 hours of training would include “Taser Orientation” suggesting that they might be allowed to carry tasers. But Mayor Wheeler’s office explained that the weaponless cops weren’t being trained to use tasers, but “how to avoid being tased”…

Homeless crime has become both routine and terrifying. One Portlander described being threatened with a machete on a children’s playground, and it’s taken the city’s crime problem to new levels.

15% of Portland’s violent deaths in 2018 involved the homeless in some way.

Portland property crimes rose 15% in 2017. Its property crime rates easily outpace Boston and Denver, and put it on a par with dangerous cities like Atlanta. Its homeless blight has put Portland on the same path as San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Portland’s Downtown Clean and Safe had picked up less than 9,897 used needles in 2015. This year it’s 39,000. Garbage and biohazards have also increased.

Car thefts are up 45% in two years. In Mayor Wheeler’s State of the City address this year, he mentioned a “97 percent increase in stolen vehicle calls” in 5 years. There was also a “64 percent increase in unwanted persons calls and a 32 percent increase in disorder calls”…

Click here to read the entire article at Sultan Knish.