Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ready, Fire Your Mouth Off, Aim!

The nation's largest police union isn't anywhere close to happy with President Obama taking away their military-grade toys, claiming the president is making scapegoats of them, and that keeping M-16 rifles and armored APCs away from local police puts them at risk against the heavily armed insurgents citizens of the United States.

James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, told POLITICO on Monday that he hopes to have a White House meeting as soon as Tuesday to discuss his concerns about how the plans could put cops at risk. 
“The FOP is the most aggressive law enforcement advocacy group in Washington, and we will be at our most aggressive in asserting the need for officer safety and officer rights in any police changes that are to be effected,” Pasco said. 
He said in particular he objects to a measure that would require police departments to get permission from city governments to acquire certain equipment, including riot batons, helmets and shields, through federal programs. 
“We need to only look back to Baltimore to see what happens when officers are sent out ill-equipped in a disturbance situation,” he said. “Because you don’t like the optics, you can’t send police officers out to be hurt or killed.”

To recap, local governments that have a problem deploying military-grade equipment against their own citizens are only worried about "optics" and not, you know, deploying military-grade equipment against their own citizens.  Interesting premise.  Luckily, cooler heads are prevailing.

Under the new standards, local police departments have to get sign-off from a civilian governing body, like a city council, and provide a “clear and persuasive explanation” for why the controlled equipment is necessary. They also have to commit to training officers on community and constitutional policing approaches, as well as collect data on when the equipment is used for a “significant incident.” 
Data collection is a major element of broader administration recommendations on 21st-century policing, also released Monday. 
A dozen cities have agreed to share data with academic-data scientists to help develop a sort of early warning system that would “[home] in on problems before they manifest themselves in the community,” Muñoz said. During his visit on Monday, Obama plans to visit Camden’s Real-Time Tactical Operational Intelligence Center and greet a group of volunteer tech experts who’ll spend a few days helping Camden shore up its internal data system. 
The administration is also planning “hackathons” and other efforts to help agencies make the data accessible to their communities through visualizations and mappings.
The task force’s report centers on six broad areas—or “pillars”—for improvement: building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education, and officer wellness and safety.

Both Cincinnati and Lexington are two of those twelve cities cooperating on this venture, and that's good news locally at least.  Attorney General Loretta Lynch will kick off her tour of these cities here in Cincinnati today.

The U.S. attorney general is looking to Cincinnati as a model for how police departments should operate. 
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch is traveling around the country, highlighting "collaborative programs and innovative policing practices." 
Her visit later today comes as some American cities grapple with distrust between their residents and police forces. The distrust and anger have boiled over in some places , in light of several recent police-related deaths of black men. 
Cincinnati's Collaborative Agreement is often looked to as a model for how police departments should work with the communities they serve. It was forged in the wake of the police shooting death of Timothy Thomas in spring 2001. His death sparked riots in Cincinnati's historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, where Thomas was shot and killed; the community's reaction was a flashpoint that uncovered long-simmering tensions and frustrations between residents and police, and eventually led to reforms in the city's police department. 
Lynch is looking to Cincinnati for ways to "advance public safety, strengthen police-community relations and foster mutual trust and respect."

Well before Ferguson, South Charleston, and Cleveland made news, the shooting death of Timothy Thomas and the resulting days of protest in Cincinnati made national headlines.  The country's focus changed sharply just a few months later on September 11th, but people here haven't forgotten. While the city still has a long way to go, things are markedly different now.

1 comment:

Frank McCormick said...

“We need to only look back to Baltimore to see what happens when officers are sent out ill-equipped in a disturbance situation,” he said.

What is he talking about? Did I miss some massacre of ill-equipped cops that by protesters with dangerous flaming candles?

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