Policing and Racial Justice: News and Publications
"In professions where adults are in regular contact with children–such as health care, education, and day care—the state is heavily involved in setting and enforcing clear standards. Law enforcement officers are the gatekeepers for the justice system. They determine who is arrested, who is not, and who enters into the juvenile justice system and these decisions can dramatically and permanently alter a youth’s educational and professional opportunities. Given the magnitude and long-term impact of encounters between youth and law enforcement, there is no reason why law enforcement agencies and officers are not subject to the same levels of accountability, training and guidance."
Shuay'b Greenaway, then 32, was painting his Hempstead residence's bathroom in 2010 when local officers came to his door following 911 calls from his family asking for help in convincing Greenaway to seek psychological help for his bipolar disorder. No violence or menacing behavior was alleged in the calls.
"Today, our country is engaged in a critically important conversation about community-police relations. This report describes one of the United States Department of Justice’s central tools for accomplishing police reform, restoring police-community trust, and strengthening officer and public safety – the Civil Rights Division’s enforcement of the civil prohibition on a “pattern or practice” of policing that violates the Constitution or other federal laws (the Department’s other tools are described later in this document). Pattern-or-practice cases begin with investigations of allegations of systemic police misconduct and, when the allegations are substantiated, end with comprehensive agreements designed to support constitutional and effective policing and restore trust between police and communities. The Division has opened 11 new pattern-or-practice investigations and negotiated 19 new reform agreements since 2012 alone, often with the substantial assistance of the local United States Attorney’s Offices.
The purpose of this report to make the Division’s police reform work more accessible and transparent. The usual course of a pattern-or-practice case, with examples and explanations for why the Division approaches this work the way it does, is set forth in this report."
"The wide-ranging survey, one of the largest ever conducted with a nationally representative sample of police, draws on the attitudes and experiences of nearly 8,000 policemen and women from departments with at least 100 officers. It comes at a crisis point in America’s relationship with the men and women who enforce its laws, precipitated by a series of deaths of black Americans during encounters with the police that have energized a vigorous national debate over police conduct and methods.
Within America’s police and sheriff’s departments, the survey finds that the ramifications of these deadly encounters have been less visible than the public protests, but no less profound. Three-quarters say the incidents have increased tensions between police and blacks in their communities. About as many (72%) say officers in their department are now less willing to stop and question suspicious persons. Overall, more than eight-in-ten (86%) say police work is harder today as a result of these high-profile incidents."
"The pattern of unlawful force we found resulted from a collection of poor police practices that our investigation indicated are used routinely within [the Chicago Police Department]. We found that officers engage in tactically unsound and unnecessary foot pursuits, and that these foot pursuits too often end with officers unreasonably shooting someone—including unarmed individuals. We found that officers shoot at vehicles without justification and in contradiction to CPD policy. We found further that officers exhibit poor discipline when discharging their weapons and engage in tactics that endanger themselves and public safety, including failing to await backup when they safely could and should; using unsound tactics in approaching vehicles; and using their own vehicles in a manner that is dangerous. These are issues that can and must be better addressed through training, accountability and ultimately cultural change."
On Monday, December 19th 2016, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke during a Xavier University press conference convened to announce settlements in connection with several Department incidents of misconduct circa 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Speaking on behalf of the city, which has agreed to pay $13.3M to 17 different plaintiffs, four of whom were killed by New Orleans Police Department officers, Mayor Landrieu publicly apologized to the families of the victims.
On Tuesday, December 6th, the City of San Jose, California agreed to pay Dawit Alemayehu $525,000 in settlement for permanent brain damage he suffered at the hands of San Jose police officer Jorge Garibay. Alemayehu was 26 in 2013 when he was arrested on suspicion of public drunkenness. Following a miscommuncation between Alemayehu and another officer about removing his belt while handcuffed, Garibay knocked Alemayehu face down to the concrete ground with a leg sweep.
The United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division issues its August 10, 2016 report on the Baltimore Police Department's "pattern or practice of conduct that violates the United States Constitution and laws and conduct that raises serious concerns." The report condemns the BPD's unconstitutional stops, searches, arrests, its regular use of unreasonable force and overly aggressive tactics, and its pattern of racial, ablist, and gendered discrimination, among other areas in which the BPD fails to serve its community.
Public conversations about urban police practices tend to exclude the perspectives and experiences of the young Black people, the citizens often most affected by those practices. The aim of the Youth/Police Project -- a collaboration of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School and the Invisible Institute -- is to access that critical knowledge and ensure that it is represented in the public discourse. This paper describes what we have learned from our ongoing project. In contrast to the attention commanded by high profile incidents of police abuse, we focus on the routine encounters between police and Black youth that take place countless times every day in cities across the nation -- interactions that shape how kids see police and how police see them. address these issues. Central to our recommendations is acknowledging the realities of young people living in marginalized communities. Drawing on our work with youth, we propose a set of policies that, taken together, have the potential to yield more equitable and constructive relationships between Black communities and police.