25 October 2015

FBI Director Blames Public Accountability for Murder Spike

James Comey is arguing that because everyone has a camera on their cell phone now, police are unwilling or unable to do their jobs:
The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said on Friday that the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers in the wake of highly publicized episodes of police brutality may have led to an increase in violent crime in some cities as officers have become less aggressive.

With his remarks, Mr. Comey lent the prestige of the F.B.I., the nation’s most prominent law enforcement agency, to a theory that is far from settled: that the increased attention on the police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals. But he acknowledged that there is so far no data to back up his assertion and that it may be just one of many factors that are contributing to the rise in crime, like cheaper drugs and an increase in criminals who are being released from prison.


Mr. Comey’s remarks caught officials by surprise at the Justice Department, where his views are not shared at the top levels. Holding the police accountable for civil rights violations has been a top priority at the department in recent years, and some senior officials do not believe that scrutiny of police officers has led to an increase in crime. While the department had no immediate comment on Friday, several officials privately fumed at Mr. Comey’s suggestion.


After civil rights leaders and the Justice Department accused the Seattle Police Department of discriminatory policing and excessive force, the number of officer-instigated stops declined and crime ticked upward, said Kathleen O’Toole, the police chief.

Chief O’Toole said it was up to police leaders to insist on reversing that trend. The critiques made the department better, she said. Crime is down this year, and her city has hosted police officials from places such as Baltimore wanting to understand why.

“There’s never been as much scrutiny on police officers as there is now,” Chief O’Toole said. “We should embrace it.”
Yes, we should embrace greater police accountability.

Being a cop may be a tough job, but it is also one which pays relatively well, and when juxtaposed with its good job security, it means that you can generally find people willing to do the work.

This means that to the the degree that bad cops are flushed out of the system, they will be replaced by good cops.

Then you have to flush the bad attitudes and practices out of the system.

Also, as I have noted before, I think that a significant portion of the police force is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a counselor friend of mine believes that it is nearly universal after about 5 years, and mentally ill cops are not going to be good cops.

In terms of addressing PTSD, I would start with the following:
  • Eliminate routine overtime in police departments.
  • Forbid moonlighting by cops in security positions.
  • Make vacation longer, at least 6 weeks a year, and mandatory.
    • Also, again, no moonlighting on vacation.
  • Mandatory counseling for all police officers on at least a monthly basis, because if all cops have to talk to a counselor, there is no stigma.
  • Stop having cops act as revenue agents through ticketing and the like.  Everyone has a God given right to hate the taxman, and being widely loathed is not conducive to mental health.
Understand that these changes would require a significant increase in base pay, probably by at least 20%, but we are living the alternative, and it ain't pretty.


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