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no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Detroit to Implement New York Style “Stop and Frisk”

August 20th, 2013

In Detroit, when you call the police because you actually need their assistance the average response time is something like 40 minutes; this is clearly a Department which needs to direct every available resource towards providing actual help and assistance to those in immediate need.

Instead, Detroit is moving forward with a stop-and-frisk policy, designed by the same consultants who implemented the controversial (and recently-ruled unconstitutional* program in New York City).

Defenders of these “stop-and-frisk” programs, like Detroit Police Assistant Chief Eric Ewing, are quick to argue about “reasonable suspicion”,

If we have reasonable suspicion someone is about to commit a crime, we’re allowed to stop that individual. If we have a good reason to believe they may be armed — say, if we see a holster, or a bulge that looks like a gun — then we’re allowed to search them. That’s just being proactive.

We’re not telling our officers they have to go out and stop X-number of people each day. But we are telling them to do police work.

But the basis of this “reasonable suspicion” is deference to the officer’s judgment, which statistical evidence — this is data coming from the NYPD — demonstrates to be laughably unreliable: About 90% of those stopped were completely innocent of any wrongdoing, i.e., the officer’s judgment was wrong, 90% of the time.

Let that sink in: Ninety percent of the time, they’re wrong. Yet we’re supposed to defer to their judgment?

The real issue is that stop-and-frisk, especially in light of the data, is essentially a fishing expedition. It’s NOT good policing, it’s an absolute and undeniable abrogation of people’s right to be secure in their person, and not to be harassed by the police at every corner..

While Ewing and other apologists may argue that their officers are stopping people “with a reason”, the statistics demonstrate otherwise. I suspect the reality is a combination of these three factors (hopefully more of 1 & 2 than of 3), among others:

  1. Officers are just not very good at determining whether there is a reason to make a stop in the first place.
  2. Or, Officers are being forced to make more stops than their judgment dictates, because of quotas imposed from their CO’s (this is fact in NY, and probably true in most other locales)
  3. Or, they are simply harassing people because they can.

To put this in some additional perspective: Detroit is literally bankrupt. It can’t afford streetlights, snow removal, garbage pick-up, etc. Further, there is a half-century (or more) of well-deserved mistrust and hostility towards law enforcement. Police response time is win-the-internet level of epic failure. Yet somehow, they think that randomly stopping people who are doing nothing wrong (and a 90% failure rate is akin to random stops) is a good use of what few resources they have?

No. It’s a waste of time, and it’s likely to be counterproductive. Every minute they spend harassing 90% of innocent people is a minute which could’ve been used doing actual police work, solving real crimes, doing community outreach, being available for real emergency calls and citizens in distress, etc., is a minute invested in fomenting even more distrust and hostility towards law enforcement.

Notes:

* The News spends a lot of time on the racial issue, and while this may be a concern for some, I think it’s a red herring, and “journalists” should be ashamed for playing this card in lieu of addressing the real, tangible problems. I take issue with Scheindlin’s ruling on similar grounds: it simply is not the right reason to oppose these tactics.

What Part of “Public Servant” Don’t You Understand?

August 27th, 2011

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is allowing his personal opinions (as an opponent of legalization) to interfere with his obligation as a public servant and elected official. Ostensibly, he is in office because of the people who voted for him (via the Detroit Free Press).

The unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals was declared a statewide precedent by Attorney General Bill Schuette, an opponent of the 2008 voter-passed law legalizing marijuana for medical use.

“The court made it clear that these dispensaries, these pot shops, have to be closed down,” he said.

As a result of the recent ruling, dispensaries throughout the state shut their doors. The unlucky ones were raided by law enforcement and several people were arrested. There have been several robberies carried out on these establishments thus far, perpetrated by law enforcement officers and now backed by the Attorney General’s opinion, acting in direct contravention to the will of the people they purport to “serve and protect”.

Unfortunately for the people, Attorney General Bill Schuette doesn’t give a damn about them, he is more interested in flexing his political power to support his own agenda.

If my ire sounds familiar, it should. I said essentially the same thing about Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, over three years ago.

It is simply not excusable for any public official to publicly campaign against the will of the people, nor to direct policy in direct opposition thereto.

Doing so ought to be considered an immediate and irrevocable act of resignation; as they are demonstrably unfit for their duties as public servants if they are unwilling to at least tolerate non-violent activities that were overwhelmingly approved by the public. And yes, if you’re keeping score, a 60-40 margin is overwhelming.

Mr. Schuette, the people have spoken and they have essentially mandated the exact fucking opposite. You don’t get to tell the people what they want. It’s the other way around.

So either do your job, or quit.

 

 

 

 

Petty Tyrants in Oak Park, MI

July 8th, 2011

I do not generally read or watch the local news, or even the national news. So when I heard a story out of Oak Park (MI) on Balko’s site via facebook this morning, I had to check it out.

Sure as shit, there’s a petty bureaucrat in a city not 3 miles from me, who’s intent on enforcing his standards of aesthetics even if it means pursuing criminal charges (up to 93 days in prison) against a woman who had the audacity to plant tomatoes in her front lawn.

Julie Bass' front-lawn garden

Aside from the City Planner’s questionable interpretation of the word suitable (round which this entire brouhaha revolves, apparently) I think it’s pretty obvious that anyone willing to press criminal charges against someone for growing a couple of plants is clearly mad. It’s not like she is breeding dogs or livestock or something that could conceivably pose a threat to her neighbors.

The city official’s name is Kevin Rulkowski, and his email address is krulkowski@ci.oak-park.mi.us. Feel free to send him an email and let him know how retarded it is. I did.

copy of the letter sent to Oak Park city planner Rulkowski

Here is a transcription, in case the print is too small.

I just read about Julie Bass and the vegetable garden she’s planted in her front yard (here).

I would think that the City of Oak Park has dozens of better ways of spending its very limited resources (financial and otherwise) than to harass a woman who is doing something useful and productive, and whose actions are not hurting anyone. The fact that you are seriously willing to push a criminal penalty of up to 93 days in prison ought to be taken as prima facie evidence that you are unfit to wield whatever small amount of power is bestowed upon a city planner.

It is people like you who make this world worse, every day.

What can I say? I calls ’em like I see ’em, and this one is as retarded as a football bat.

no third solution

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