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September 2014
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Open Thread

Some very good reading this morning…

bullet image Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes (Washington Post)

Behind the rise in seizures is a little-known cottage industry of private police-training firms that teach the techniques of “highway interdiction” to departments across the country. […]

A thriving subculture of road officers on the network now competes to see who can seize the most cash and contraband, describing their exploits in the network’s chat rooms and sharing “trophy shots” of money and drugs. Some police advocate highway interdiction as a way of raising revenue for cash-strapped municipalities. […]

There have been 61,998 cash seizures made on highways and elsewhere since 9/11 without search warrants or indictments through the Equitable Sharing Program, totaling more than $2.5 billion. State and local authorities kept more than $1.7 billion of that while Justice, Homeland Security and other federal agencies received $800 million. Half of the seizures were below $8,800.

There’s a good video demonstrating a couple of cases of asset forfeiture.


bullet image Crime, Bias and Statistics by Charles M. Blow, New York Times

Crime policies that disproportionately target people of color can increase crime rates by concentrating the effects of criminal labeling and collateral consequences on racial minorities and by fostering a sense of legal immunity among whites.”

There is no way in this country to discuss crime statistics without including in that discussion the myriad ways in which those statistics are informed and influenced by the systemic effects of racial distortion.

We know that the drug war is a huge part of the problem in terms of crime policies that disproportionately target people of color.


bullet image The Rise of the SWAT Team in American Policing (New York Times)

An outstanding video segment on the history of SWAT and how it’s gotten out of control.

The Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878 at the end of Reconstruction and amended but slightly over the decades, prohibits the nation’s armed forces from being used as a police force within the United States. Soldiers, the reasoning goes, exist to fight wars. Chasing local wrongdoers is a job for cops.

But many police departments today are so heavily armed with Pentagon-supplied hand-me-downs — tools of war like M-16 rifles, armored trucks, grenade launchers and more — that the principle underlying the Posse Comitatus Act can seem as if it, too, has gone thataway. Questions about whether police forces are overly militarized have been around for years. They are now being asked with new urgency because of the recent turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., where unarmed demonstrators protesting the fatal police shooting of a teenager faced off for a while against mightily armed officers in battle dress and gas masks.

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15 comments to Open Thread

  • claygooding

    Several counties and cities are moving forward on getting cameras on their officers and removing military armored vehicles from their police,,if the police are seen treating every citizen as an enemy they are grossly outnumbered.

    Our next goal SHOULD be a requirement for the FBI to track and investigate every killing by police.

    • Crut

      .
      .
      Kinda like not taking the stand in your defense during a criminal trial, being against having your police wear on-duty camera seems inordinately suspicious.

      The wall is crumbling while some of the bricklayers are still attempting to mix some more mortar.

      “We didn’t want to win the drug war, then our job would be over,” Kaminski said. “We were enjoying what we did…sort of like job security.”

      Drug war veteran reflects

    • Windy

      The FBI is just as guilty of taking unconstitutional actions against we, the people, I wouldn’t count on that agency to investigate the police and be honest about their findings.

  • DannZoidal/Limey/News

    “The Liberal Democrats are looking at the decriminalisation of all drugs for personal use and allowing cannabis to be sold on the open market.

    Launching his party’s draft election manifesto, Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, said the party would consider such options after they were advocated in a policy paper due to be discussed at the Lib Dem conference next month.

    The paper said the Lib Dems “will adopt the model used in Portugal, where those who possess drugs for personal use will be diverted into other services”. The southern European country decriminalised personal possession of all drugs in 2000.”

    lib-dems-drug-policy-decriminalise-for-personal-use

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    Well there go those Jews again, making decisions based on logic and factual evidence. Don’t they understand that it’s just no way to prosecute a war on (some) drugs?

    Study finds marijuana post-trauma benefits

    /snip/
    “The importance of this study is that it contributes to the understanding of the brain basis of the positive effect cannabis has on PTSD. This thus supports the necessity of performing human trials to examine potential ways to prevent the development of PTSD and anxiety disorders in response to a traumatic event,” the researchers said.

    About nine percent of the population suffer from PTSD; in some groups, such as Holocaust survivors, combat soldiers, prisoners, victims of assault and citizens in lines of confrontation, the prevalence is even higher. A common phenomenon among those who suffer from trauma is that exposure to a “trauma reminder” — an event that is not essentially traumatic but evokes the memory of the experience of the traumatic event — can further heighten the negative effects of the trauma. For example, for a person who has developed PTSD syndromes as a result of “Color Red” sirens (air raid sirens), a trauma reminder can occur following a loud car alarm.
    /snip/

    Let’s not forget the victims of search warrants executed by SWAT teams. I had never considered that I might suffer from PTSD until August 2011 when I had the opportunity to experience an earthquake. Earthquakes of any discernible magnitude are very rare on the right side of the Country. This one was 5.9 at its epicenter.

    I had just dragged my ass out of bed and was watching my morning coffee fix dripping when the house started shaking. With no frame of reference I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the police were landing a helicopter on my roof. There were lots and lots of people who lacked that frame of residence but I doubt many thought they were getting raided by the police in a helicopter landing on their roof.

    Disclaimer I’m not trying to compare myself to others with PTSD. I’m very fortunate considering how bad it could be. If I were scared of black helicopters we’d never have bought this house because they fly over my house constantly when the wind is blowing in the right direction. I live under the flight path for Andrews Air Force Base and the Air Force parks a lot of black helicopters there.

  • Jean Valjean

    From the Wapo article:
    “Steven Peterson, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who arranged highway interdiction training through a company called the 4:20 Group, said that patrol officers used to try to make their names with large drug busts. He said he saw that change when agency leaders realized that cash seizures could help their departments during lean times….. If you seized large amounts of cash, that’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
    4:20 Group…cute. They don’t even bother to hide their true motive.

  • thelbert

    on the lealized highway robbery: “There is no question that state and federal forfeiture programs have crippled powerful drug-trafficking organizations, thwarted an assortment of criminals” where are the crippled bodies of the drug cartels? i doubt that ripping the big drug purveyors for pocket change has crippled anything. i haven’t heard of a shortage of heroin, or any other drug.

    • allan

      But, but thelbert, it says:

      There is no question that state and federal forfeiture programs have crippled powerful drug-trafficking organizations[…]”

      Are you questioning that? tsk, tsk…

      Ya know I cringe every time I hear a talking head call the USA “the homeland.” Stop with that! Ugh.

      • thelbert

        that’s exactly right allan, i have to question that assertion. the idea that the narcs could cripple a drug importer without neutralizing the leaders of the outfit is ludicrous. no evidence, no cred.

      • thelbert

        when i hear “homeland security dept” i think to myself Heimat Sicherheit Amt, ausweis bitte!

  • DdC

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    http://www.gcdpsummary2014.com/#executive-summary

    “We are driven by a sense of urgency. There is a widespread acknowledgment that the current system is not working, but also recognition that change is both necessary and achievable. We are convinced that the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) is an historic opportunity to discuss the shortcomings of the drug control regime, identify workable alternatives and align the debate with ongoing debates on the post-2015 development agenda and human rights.”

    Fernando Henrique Cardoso
    Former President of Brazil (1994-2002)

    Allow and encourage diverse experiments in legally regulating markets in currently illicit drugs, beginning with but not limited to cannabis, coca leaf and certain novel psychoactive substances.

    TransformDrugPolicy ‏@TransformDrugs
    New report > World leaders say: “Get drugs under control through responsible legal regulation” http://bit.ly/1lJECgL

    DrugWarFacts.org ‏@DrugPolicyFacts
    Great new report from the @globalcdp – Taking Control: Pathways To Drug Policies That Work http://www.gcdpsummary2014.com/#foreword-from-the-chair … #drugwar #DrugPolicy

    TransformDrugPolicy ‏@TransformDrugs
    World leaders call for responsible legal regulation of drugs http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blog/world-leaders-call-responsible-legal-regulation-drugs … Transform blog on new @globalcdp report #ControlDrugs

    Ethan Nadelmann ‏@ethannadelmann
    Just Out: Global Drug Policy Commission Report Calls for Decrim, Harm Reduction & Legal Regulation of Drugs http://shar.es/11KNCW

  • The N.F.L.’s Absurd Marijuana Policy
    http://nyti.ms/1lOjRQI
    “VIRTUALLY every single player in the N.F.L. has a certifiable need for medical marijuana.

    The game we celebrate creates a life of daily pain for those who play it. Some players choose marijuana to manage this pain, which allows them to perform at a high level without sacrificing their bodies or their minds.”

    Good article in support of marijuana in the NFL.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      I’m thinking that a group of big sweaty mens recognized generally as being elite level athletes shouldn’t exist if amotivational syndrome were real. Also, let’s not forget to axe why school children are allowed to participate in an activity proven to cause severe life changing brain and other physical injuries.

  • DdC

    The Ganjawar more resembles
    Cardassian Articles of Jurisprudence
    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Cardassian_Articles_of_Jurisprudence
    The Cardassian Articles of Jurisprudence were laws governing treatment and rights of prisoners in the Cardassian justice system.

    Under the articles, an officer would caution the individual being arrested that, “You have the right to refuse to answer questions, but such refusal may be construed as a sign of guilt.” The document also allows the arrest of a suspect without informing him of the crime he is accused of.

    It also provided for spouses of the accused to disassociate themselves from the accused by testifying against them. Cardassian trials were for show, as the verdict and sentence had already been determined in advance. There was no appeals process. (DS9: “Tribunal”)

    Cardassian approach to life was found in their jurisprudence and criminal trials, in which the verdict was always determined beforehand – guilty – and the purpose of the proceedings was not justice in the Human sense but bringing the offender to recognize the power and benevolence of the State. A trial, therefore, was an opportunity for the State to reveal how someone’s guilt was proven by what they considered “the most efficient criminal investigation system in the quadrant”. Consequently, charges against the accused were announced at the commencement of the trial itself, the execution date was set in advance and only the offender’s spouse as well as the court-assigned nestor and counsel could attend the trial.

  • Plant Down Babylon

    I just get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that Almighty KARMA is going to kiss every one of these rights violating kops when they least expect it.

    That is a given.

    And when that day comes, they will know they fucked up. I believe you’re supposed to love your neighbor as yourself.

    Your conscience never lies…