10 July 2016

I Really Don't Have Much to Say About This

The killings of black men by police early last week, and the shootings of officers in Dallas are clearly both awful things.

It's ironic that this happened in Dallas, because the DPD has been at the forefront of reforms in policing:

In the aftermath of the chaotic and deadly scene that unfolded in Dallas on Thursday night, where five law enforcement officers were killed and at least seven others were wounded, government officials and law enforcement experts have noted that the Dallas Police Department has distinguished itself as a model of police reform. As Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings put it in a somber press conference Friday morning, “This police department trained in de-escalation far before cities across America did it. We’re one of the premier community policing cities in the country and this year we have the fewest police officer-related shootings than any large city in America.”

Among the changes the Dallas police have made since 2012: a new foot chase policy aimed at discouraging officers from making risky decisions while pursuing suspects, new guidelines for reporting encounters involving the use of force, and a policy of bringing in the FBI Civil Rights Division to review all police-involved shootings. Since 2014, the department has maintained one website containing a trove of data on more than a decade of police-involved shootings in the city, and another that catalogues all police encounters that result in an officer drawing a weapon, using a baton, or physically restraining a suspect. In 2015, the department received $3.7 million in funding from the Dallas City Council so it could buy 1,000 body cameras over the course of the next five years.

Perhaps the most significant reforms, as suggested by the mayor’s comments, have centered on training. In 2014, Brown introduced a plan to sharply increase the amount of deadly force training required of patrol officers and began to emphasize de-escalation techniques at the Dallas Police Academy.

Brown’s efforts have coincided with a dramatic drop in excessive force complaints. In 2009, the year before he took over the department, there were 147 such complaints filed; as of November 2015, there had been just 13 for the year. Brown told the Morning News in 2015 that he credited the new training methods with a 40 percent year-on-year drop in police shootings and a 30 percent drop in assaults on officers. BuzzFeed’s Albert Samaha points out that, in the years since 2012 (when Dallas police shot 23 people), the frequency of officer-involved shootings has consistently fallen; according to the department’s data, there were 11 last year, and before Thursday, there had been just one in 2016. The fact that Dallas’ murder rate continues to decline, the Washington Post’s Radley Balko has noted, is evidence that a department “can embrace policing policies that are community-friendly, open and transparent, and dedicated to minimizing the use of force and violence ... and still enjoy the same or greater drops in crime we’re seeing elsewhere.”
Modern police training in the US, and the associated legal regime, have institutionalized cowardice as both a strategy used by the police as a justifications for dubious use of force, and as an alibi used by police in the aftermath these actions.

Second, I would suggest that anyone who suggests that Micah Xavier Johnson is somehow the responsibility of the Black Lives Matter movement, or of the greater Black community, (I'm looking at you, Fox News) is an idiot and a bigot.


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