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City ripe for police reform, but Berke, council resist

A young American for liberty lists ways in which police might be reformed.
Marchers pass in front of Chattanooga city hall demanding reforms of police and major budget cuts from their F$71 million budget. (Photo Jared Story)

Protesters for as many as 15 days have marched against police violence and unjust courts in Chattanooga while the police have made minor concessions on paper and the city council has given ear — but refused to give anything more than that by way of concessions to protester demands.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio 92.7 FM

City council on June 16 upheld the police budget intact, with a minor concession coming from the office budget of Chief David Roddy of F$150,000 to help pay for a new mayoral task, an office of community resilience.

“Last week, I shared with you that in addition to signing the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance pledge to examine and reform policing techniques,” says Mayor Berke, “we were going to work towards implementing all of the policies called for by the organizers of the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign. These policies, used consistently, can dramatically reduce violence and help protect people. The Chattanooga Police Department has already been implementing almost all of them.

“Today, Chief Roddy updated CPD’s “duty to intervene” policy that his officers will be implementing moving forward. This means that if a member of the Chattanooga Police Department sees one of their fellow officers committing misconduct or engaging in abusive behavior, he or she has a responsibility to immediately intervene and stop it. *** CPD has also updated its policy to verbally warn suspects prior to shooting. This notice is also proven to reduce officer-involved shootings and de-escalate potentially fatal situations.” 

Policing per se is part of the state’s war against the people and its continuing humiliation of them. Policing originates in the concept of the total administrative welfare-warfare messianic state that Americans have erected as against a libertarian constitutionalist republic envisioned by the founders.

Some developments:

Wandering cops

“A newly published study in the Yale Law Journal found that law enforcement officers who are fired, and get rehired, are more likely to receive “moral character violations” for physical, sexual and other misconduct.

“The study, which its authors call ‘the first systematic investigation of wandering officers and possibly the largest quantitative study of police misconduct of any kind,’ looked at 98,000 full-time law enforcement officers working in 500 unique agencies in Florida over a 30-year period.” (Daniel Villarreal, “New Study Suggests Previously Fired Cops Continue Bad Behavior When Hired At New Police Departments,” Newsweek, June 16, 2020.

Colorado ends qualified immunity

Colorado Governor Jared Polis on Friday June 19 signed into law a bill to remove the shield of legal immunity that has long protected police officers from civil suits for on-the-job misconduct, a measure civil libertarians hail as landmark legislation. Also, the law bans chokeholds, requires cop departments to use body-worn cameras within three years.

SCOTUS has refused to hear challenges to qualified immunity. (Reuters report.)

Insurance companies can force changes

(Atlantic Monthly, 2017 article) When Anthony Miranda was sworn in as police chief of Irwindale, California, four years ago, the department in this small gravel-mining city about 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles was in the midst of a downward spiral. Three officers had recently been accused of serious crimes. One had embezzled $250,000 of his 89-year-old father’s life savings, another had sexually assaulted a woman delivering newspapers on a side street at dawn, and the third had molested minors under his supervision in an “explorer scout” program. There were 14 internal investigations underway.

The problems with the police force were not just troubling—they were existential. In August 2013, the city’s insurer, the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, had threatened to revoke Irwindale’s liability insurance unless City Hall and the police department took substantive steps to tackle internal corruption, the likes of which had led to nearly $2 million in settlements paid out over a five-year period.

Loss of insurance would have been the death knell for the local police force: In recent years, cities in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, Louisiana, and elsewhere in California have had to disband their police departments after losing  coverage. A big claim—like the $2.75 million settlement later awarded to the victim in the “explorer scout” case—could bankrupt a municipality with a small budget and tax base, like Irwindale. The city has only 1,400 people.

“I told them if we didn’t get our house in order, we would lose it,” Miranda told me. He had watched in 2010 as police officers in nearby Maywood turned in their badges and radios in a small ceremony after that city’s liability coverage was withdrawn by CJPIA, due in part to the excessive number of claims against the police. “It was pretty sobering,” he said. Yet the company’s threat, and the “performance improvement plan” it required officials to follow, finally set Irwindale on a path toward overhauling its dysfunctional department.

Rachel B. Doyle, “How Insurance Companies Can Force Bad Cops Off the Job,” Atlantic Monthly, June 10, 2017. “In exchange for coverage, insurers can demand that police departments implement new policies and training, and dismiss problem officers.

Underlying culture of cops: MILITARY

Studies suggest that police departments that receive such equipment see no measurable improvement in officer safety or crime rates, but greater quantities do seem to correlate with higher rates of officer-involved shootings and reduced public trust.

In Washington State, for instance, former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr, now the head of the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission, has pioneered an academy-training approach centered on a vision of police as guardians, not warriors. Rahr calls her training method “LEED,” for “Listen and Explain with Equity and Dignity.” Instead of an emphasis on yelling and standing at attention, her recruits are trained to engage others in courteous conversation, and are evaluated during role-play exercises on their ability to listen, show empathy, explain their actions, de-escalate tense situations, and leave everyone they encounter “with their dignity intact.”

“Stop Training Police Like They’re Joining the Military” is the headline of her story in Atlantic Monthly.

If policing is to change, the spotlight must turn toward police academies, where new recruits are first inculcated into the folkways of their profession.  Rosa Brooks, June 10, 2020. Dr. Brooks is a law school professor.

Protesters face off against police in downtown Chattanooga. (Photo Jared Story)

Hammond on chokeholds

This story is in In the wake of George Floyd’s police-related death, the topic of chokeholds came up during Friday’s Hamilton County Security and Corrections Committee meeting. Sheriff Jim Hammond told commissioners that chokeholds are only a “last resort.”

“We are not allowed to do chokeholds or strangleholds except as the last result to protect your own life or the life of an innocent party,” said Sheriff Hammond.

“For instance, if you are fighting for your own life, nothing is barred and you do what you have to do to get that person off of you.”

Commissioner Warren Mackey then wondered when an officer was to stop a chokehold in that scenario. He wanted to know at what point has the situation de-escalated enough to stop using that technique.

“You only apply force until you gain compliance,” said Sheriff Hammond. “So if the person is unconscious or stops doing what they’re doing, you should immediately relax whatever you are doing now that you’ve gained compliance. That’s where it really goes: comply, comply, comply.”

“If a person has been subdued and can’t breathe, and the officer says stop moving, and the person is trying to get air, I’m just trying to understand that whole mindset,” asked Commissioner Mackey in response. “How do you stop struggling when you can’t breathe?”

Sheriff Hammond said that a well-trained officer knows that if a person is still talking, then that person can still breathe. He said that officer should also know the point that they can relax the chokehold, and see if the person remains calm. Sheriff Hammond said that if the person begins to fight again, then the choke will continue to be applied. — Joseph Dycus, “Sheriff Hammond Says Use Of Chokehold Is Only As Last Resort When Officer Is Fighting For His Life,” Chattanoogan, June 19, 2020. Read the whole story here:

Policing victim sues Soddy-Daisy

Soddy-Daisy cop Jon Rahn is accused of abusing William Justin Byrum in a transportation statute arrest (traffic stop), who is suing in federal court.

Steve Everett, son of past Soddy Daisy Police Chief Doug Everett, is a friend of the department and knows everyone in it. But at the city council meeting June 18 he said the department brims with violence. From

“That officer was put on administrative leave, but was still allowed to work a criminal scene during that time, claimed Mr. Everett, when evidence was lost from an investigation. Rhan was also permitted the use of a patrol car until last week. There should have been an internal affairs investigation by the police chief and city manager, he said. ‘Administrators aren’t doing their jobs. There is a failure in training and supervision in the police department,’ he said. ‘I am an advocate for the police department,’ said Mr. Everett, ‘but not now. It’s a mess. I can’t believe swift quick actions weren’t taken knowing what the guy did, and we let him keep working.’

“An attorney involved in the case earlier said Rhan ‘assaulted the defendant in the criminal case and threw him to the ground while he was handcuffed behind his back. He lied in the affidavit of complaint, said the defendant was hiding from him then resisting, Rahn didn’t know that there was a video.  After reviewing the video, the DA’s office eventually dismissed the case. Then, knowing why the case had been dismissed, the officer took the case to the grand jury and got an indictment which was summarily dismissed by the DA.’”

Source: Gail Perry, “Son Of Former Soddy Daisy Police Chief Said Department Has Culture Of Use Of Unnecessary Force,” June 19, 2020.

Man faces trial in fight with cop

David Schmitt of Cohutta was on July 22, 2019, committing an apparent public offense of standing in front of cars and trucks on a road, or trying to get into them. Dalton Police Officer Guerrero  shot him with a stun gun. But Schmitt reportedly fought to grab the stun gun, and Guerrero shot him several times.

Schmitt was hospitalized for his injuries. He is now in Whitfield County jail. TV9 says jail records show he’s charged with aggravated assault, obstruction of an officer resulting in injury and misdemeanor failure to appear. Trial is April 27.

In March Conasauga Judicial District  Attorney Bert Poston found the shooting “legally justified.”  The case was the 45th police shooting in 2919 the TBI investigated. TV9.

Seeking to abolish prisons, police

When I look at work by groups such as Critical Resistance, founded in 1998 to abolish prison, I think in terms of redemption. Many of the villainies targeted by this group are ones Christians should be a part of as they hold forth the truth of God’s law and biblical jurisprudence. The scriptures hold to equity, and not to prison in any manner. They hold to lococentric and judicial-ethical peacekeeping, and not to policing and pre-crime regulation of noncriminal people by armed officers.

Definition of Policing

Chattanooga activist Katie Keel

A group called Critical Resistance cited by Chattanooga activists says its goals are as follows: [T]o build an international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. We believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and freedom are what really make our communities secure. As such, our work is part of global struggles against inequality and powerlessness. The success of the movement requires that it reflect communities most affected by the PIC. Because we seek to abolish the PIC, we cannot support any work that extends its life or scope.

Activist of collectivist bent such as Katie Keel of Chattanooga (who heckled city council member Chip Henderson at his residence with nearly a dozen other protesters) cite the work of this group and informs herself and other Democratic Socialists of America in Chattanooga with its materials.

Policing is a social relationship made up of a set of practices that are empowered by the state to enforce law and social control through the use of force.  Reinforcing the oppressive social and economic relationships that have been central to the US throughout its history, the roots of policing in the United States are closely linked the capture of people escaping slavery, and the enforcement of Black Codes.  Similarly, police forces have been used to keep new immigrants “in line” and to prevent the poor and working classes from making demands. As social conditions change, how policing is used to target poor people, people of color, immigrants, and others who do not conform on the street or in their homes also shifts.  The choices policing requires about which people to target, what to target them for, and when to arrest a book them play a major role in who ultimately gets imprisoned.

The arguments against policing and prisons come from the the left, and they come from people like me, with a Christian, constitutionalist and libertarian bent. When police aggression is in view. many parties of conflicting perspective can agree.

The Tulis Report is 1 p.m. weekdays, live and lococentric.

Sue cop as oppressor, defend self in traffic court: Tennessee Transportation Administrative Notice

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