Use of Force

Black Lives Matter/Campaign Zero Activists Launch "Police Use of Force Project"

New website collects use of force polices from 100 major police departments.

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Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists, as part of

Man's best friend doing civil service.
Dreamstime/Wellphotos

their Campaign Zero campaign to "end police violence in America," have launched a new website called the Police Use of Force Project which they say is "the first open-source database of police use of force policies for the 100 largest U.S. city police departments."

Using documents procured through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the site's creators aim to demonstrate how these departments' publicly available policies regarding the legal limits to use of force "help enable police violence."

According to the Project, many of these policies "fail to include common-sense limits on police use of force," such as: 

  1. Failing to make life preservation the primary principle shaping police decisions about using force
  2. Failing to require officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, by communicating with subjects, maintaining distance, and otherwise eliminating the need to use force
  3. Allowing officers to choke or strangle civilians, in many cases where less lethal force could be used instead, resulting in the unnecessary death or serious injury of civilians
  4. Failing to require officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor (bold in original) 

This endeavor follows up BLM's Check the Police Project, which focused on what my colleague Ed Krayewski called "the most egregious privileges police unions have negotiated into their contracts."

Both websites provide a database with easy access to PDFs of government documents, and the creators of the sites allow the policies to speak for themselves, with almost no editorializing other than suggested policy solutions. Although even in that section, they cite examples of already existing "good" policies regarding the use of force in cities like Seattle, Denver and Las Vegas to demonstrate that the solutions they seek are possible given the right circumstances. 

Examing the policies of the 17 largest PDs in the US, the Project found:

Police Use of Force Project
  • Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Antonio police are not required to give a verbal warning, when possible, before shooting at civilians.
  • Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, and San Francisco police departments are the only departments in our analysis that prohibit officers from hog-tying civilians, a cruel form of restraint where a person's wrists are shackled to their ankles behind their back.

As we've noted often here at Reason, US police departments have a transparency problem, and while the Police Use of Force project was able to compile an impressive amount of data, some departments (Houston and El Paso among them) would only release heavily redacted files of what should be publicly available data.

The Project also notes that four of the largest PDs do not make their use of force policies available to the public online, that only three of the largest "require police to report every time they used force, including incidents where police point a firearm at civilians," and that some departments refuse to even release the names of people killed by police. 

If you're curious to see the use of force policies in your city, check out the database here.

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  1. campaign to “end police violence in America”

    I predict that’s going to go as well as the campaign to end drug violence in America.

  2. Good. Now the media can look up the procedures to fact check the passive statement that procedures were followed. They won’t, of course, but they can.

    1. If internal policies are going to supersede the law, they should probably be reviewable by the public. The only thing that could make that website better would be if the database included union contract stipulations.

    2. The media should have been doing this research already.

      So at least there’s someone doing the media’s job for them.

      1. Journalists sit around like baby birds waiting with their beaks open to have someone stuff nourishment in their mouths.

        With the difference that they often refuse nourishment if it’s offered by a “right wing” organization.

        They won’t have that problem with BLM.

        So I hope BLM’s information is reliable, because journalists are going to be relying on it.

  3. I wouldn’t mind a little violence against the people who keep shutting down the freeway.

    1. You’re still using government roads, eh? So noted.

    2. Stay Away from Derpbook. Blocking the freeway is apparently the same as Rosa Park’s Bus boycott

      1. Playa hasn’t figured out they’re doing him a favor.

        1. In this particular case (Monday), I wasn’t on my way to work. I was trying to go visit my Grandpa, who has since passed away.

          If they would have successfully prevented me from making it, you would have heard about it on the news. I don’t take lightly to that kind of shit.

          1. I’m sorry to hear that. Wasn’t it two days ago you didn’t think he’d make the week? Hope he didn’t suffer too much.

            1. Thanks. Last night. We got the morphine. Lots of hurdles, but we got it. No suffering.

              1. Peace to you and your family.

          2. My condolences.

      2. “But white people have rioted before too!”
        “This is the only way marginalized voices are heard!”
        “So you care more about your own personal convenience than ending institutionalized oppression you privileged shitlord?!”

        My facebook feed dreamed up every possible excuse to justify behavior that, if pulled off by a conservative group, they’d be calling for executions in response to.

    3. I’m a big supporter of road ragers. When I hear about a road rage incident, my first thought is “what did the asshole do to piss the ranger off?” Odds are it was real bullshit dick move, or serious of bullshit dick moves.

  4. Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Antonio police are not required to give a verbal warning, when possible, before shooting at civilians.

    “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?”

    Common sense says you should give someone a chance to know death for noncompliance is on its way? BUT IF IT’S NOT WRITTEN DOWN ANYWHERE…

  5. Black lives matter don’t give a fuck when the cops murder innocent whites so I don’t give a fuck about black lives matter. I do care about police brutality, I just don’t care about the BLM fuckwits.

    1. Pretty much this.

    2. I don’t care for these BLM asswipes either. I didn’t click the link for the Police Use of Force Project, but if the stuff that the writer posted is the majority of the focus, then I have to give them credit for not pushing the race thing in this particular case.

    3. Even when they’re working to reduce police violence?

      1. They don’t give a shit about police violence in principle. They only care that it is not being mete out equally along racial lines. If cops started killing ten more white kids for every black kid that they currently kill, BLM would be pleased.

        1. Or maybe they see that blacks are disproportionately the victims of police violence, and they believe that framing it as a racial issue is a good way to spur into action both black people and white people who don’t want to be seen as racist.

          1. Framing it as a racial issue implies that it is not police violence that is the problem. Rather it implies the problem is that the violence not being doled equally by race. The solution could be less police violence against blacks (but not whites, we’re after equality here), or more police violence against whites (leaving current police violence on blacks the same, again we’re after equality). Either would have a racially fair result. What would not be acceptable would be less police violence overall, with it being distributed by race as it is currently, because that’s not equal.

          2. CELINA DURGIN LOOKS AT EVERY POLICE SHOOTING IN DECEMBER, 2015 ? Here Are Some Facts. “In December, police killed 92 people ? 21 blacks, 40 whites, 17 Hispanics/Latinos, five Asians/Pacific Islanders, and nine of unknown race. Fourteen were unarmed, including five blacks.

            So twice as many whites as blacks were killed by police, and blacks were only 22 percent of all those killed. Yet it is somehow a black issue. Bullshit. BLM is just more dishonest race-hustling.

            1. Look, WTF. It’s not fair because blacks are not being killed by police in exact proportion as they are to their share of the population of the country. Blacks represent something like ten percent of the total population, right? So to be fair the cops need to kill ten white people for every black person they kill. Not two.

              1. Sadly, I think that is what these BLM lunatics actually want.

                1. That’s exactly what some of them want. http://www.wnd.com/2015/04/i-w…..-the-back/

    4. Er, what exactly are you basing this statement on?

      1. The fact that these dimwit sheep let democrat politicians make this issue all about race is proof of how fucking stupid they are and why this issue has lost most of the momentum it had.

    5. Hyperion, I think #BLM is getting better somewhat, in that as of late (by my account) they’re making their campaign more generic, and trying to apply it broadly to police violence writ large.

      1. The Democrat plantation masters will frown upon that and promptly put them back on the course of making it all about race, watch and see.

        Any coalition of civil libertarians from the entire political spectrum would be the worst disaster ever for career politicians and their public union thugs. It will never be allowed to happen.

        1. It’s no different than how statist politicians like Rubio and Huckabee hijacked the Tea Party movement.

        2. I am curious to see how #BLM’s toe-dipping into the Union-reform pond will fare.

          1. They’ll be whacked on the head and told to go back to the welfare lines until they’re needed at the voting booth.

    6. How can you tell? Is BLM an organization with clear membership, or is it a hashtag, a label any dipshit can choose to adopt to brand their speech?

        1. If I only watched Reason’s coverage, I’d think they were Balko acolytes and not Sharpton acolytes.

          But I wasn’t really sure if there was an official organization apart from the hashtag. Unlike #blacklivesmatter or #gamergate, an organization has the ability not only to associate, but to disassociate. They can expel people who bring them shame in the eyes of the public.

          A hashtag (or any sort of easily adopted label) has no capacity to do so, and it tends create an incentive for hateful narcissistic jerkoffs to latch onto something trending to be able to reach a larger audience when (being jerkoffs) they would otherwise be shunned and ignored. Controversial organizations always have to struggle against false flag BS and agent provocateurs, but labels are utterly defenseless.

          TL;DR: Unlike an organization, it makes no sense to judge a hashtag by its worst members (if that’s even the right word), since there is no real capacity for decent, rational people using the hashtag to disassociate themselves from bad actors.

    7. But, when the racists actually do good, don’t complain.

  6. Obligatory “Police are civilians”.

    1. Civilians that can murder other civilians without accountability.

  7. It’s a start, but not likely to amount to much, since police can violate policies and laws with impunity. As long as qualified immunity and police unions exist, nothing will change.

  8. (Houston and El Paso among them) would only release heavily redacted files of what should be publicly available data.

    You don’t reveal military plans of overseas invasion to the public, why would we release such data regarding our local military invasion?

  9. Oh, Jesus Christ. BLM is doing this, so I’m against it. Why, no, I’m not a Team! player, why do you ask?

    I don’t give a rat’s ass who’s doing this or why they’re doing it, I just want to know where do I send a check? This database is supposed to have been mandated by federal law for 20 goddamn years and it’s pretty good evidence government sucks at getting things done, especially when it’s something they don’t want to do. If some group wants to come out of the (more-or-less) private sector and do the job the government can’t or won’t do, more power to them. Just because they want to use this database for their own nefarious purposes doesn’t mean we can’t use it for ours, so just quit with the whiny-baby shit.

    1. database is supposed to have been mandated by federal law for 20 goddamn years and it’s pretty good evidence government sucks at getting things done

      Mere proof that more funding is needed.

      1. Especially more funding for public unions. How are the police supposed to oversee their own behavior without a bigger budget?

    2. Yep. They done good.

      A little more gratitude and a lot less bitching is in order.

  10. Black Li[v]es Matter (BLM) activists

    Those clowns are the only group that makes me like the police. Sorta.

    1. Say what it is that you really want to say.

      1. He’s sayin that he wants the coppers to kill dem darkies before they shoot up some pot and start rapin the white wiminz.

        1. I want to hear him say it.

          1. I want to hear him say it.

            No, you want to start rapin the white wiminz.

              1. That’s rappin, HM, it’s different. Rapin violates a woman. Rappin violates music.

          2. Well, I didn’t think he would say it. And congress won’t do anything. Someone had to do something!

            1. Thank you for your service.

  11. Wow, actual productive issue-advocacy from BLM? That’s a good sign.

    I suppose some of them might be figuring out that the human-chains on bridges, Brunch-yelling, and mall-occupations aren’t exactly making any real progress other than to piss people the fuck off.

    1. Yes. I mean, I would recommend they disrupt more airport traffic, but compiling this database will also have a positive effect.

      1. ” I would recommend they disrupt more airport traffic”

        Ah.

        (imagines screaming-black-women with helium balloons strapped to them being floated into the flight paths of 747s)

        yes. that will expose the supremacy inherent in… FAA regulations, or something

    2. Their Project Zero stuff has been around for a while and is 95% excellent.

      1. “”Project Zero stuff””

        Campaign Zero.

        from what i can tell, it either started 6 months ago, or it goes back to 2012 and ‘trayvon’, which doesn’t make much sense since that wasn’t police-related….but regardless….

        it seems sort of new that the BLM characters seem to have an actual policy-agenda rather than endless ‘demonstration’. When these same people met with Hillary, they didn’t seem quite as coherent as they do now. maybe that’s just the way its being covered.

        “Both Elzie and Mckesson said they were disappointed that Clinton seemed resigned to the fact that the federal government doesn’t play a major role in local policing.

        “She kind of downplayed the role of the federal government and placed it all on state and local government,” Elzie said.”

        Things like that give you the impression that they’re not all that hip to their own “key issues”. Hillary’s right – it is mostly a state & local policy issue. which is why the above database about PD policies is exactly the right approach.

        1. It is currently a state and local police issue, but it really shouldn’t be. Certainly the killing of people by government officials falls within the scope of the 14th amendment’s grant of power to Congress to guarantee equal protection under the law. “When can cops shoot you and get away with it” should not be a local question.

  12. “fail to include common-sense limits on police use of force,”

    If they’re common sense, by definition they don’t need to be included.

    In principle I sorta support what BLM tries to do, but they’re so retarded in execution I am left having to question their principles.

    1. They have to go after the unions, but trying to square that circle could implode the left. Somehow, police are racist monsters, who should be the only people with guns and who deserve generous guns.

      1. generous pensions

        jeez guns on the brain

  13. Given that only 14% of the population is black, you would think that, if actually making progress interested you, you would advocate for criminal justice reform as it relates to 100% of the people, instead of 14%, and then finding out that, lo and behold, when you reform the criminal justice system for everyone, the 14% of minorities most effected are benefited, as well.

    But, they still insist on going with #blacklivesmatter hashtags, which kinda suggests that actual criminal justice reform isn’t really the issue, as much as race baiting political opportunism. Same old, same old.

    Whoop de shit.

    1. Well, it makes more sense when you realize a nontrivial number of people don’t want punishment for crimes to be applied equally. From the person linked in an earlier thread who wants to keep Walmart out of DC because it will “turn young people into criminals” (by tempting them with stuff to steal) to the mayor of Baltimore who said people just need “room to destroy” (while half the pharmacies in the city get cleaned out).

      At least some of these folks are glomming onto the #BLM movement, if it wasn’t entirely their brainchild to begin with.

  14. So much more productive than blocking access to malls and pissing everyone off.

  15. One problem seems to me to be the attitude by police that INSTANT obedience is required by suspects or lethal force is justified. One case involved a crazy young man who when confronted wrapped his arms and legs around a sign post. They tazed him repeatedly and he died. But why taze him? He was inert, not a threat, not moving, sitting down. You could talk to him all day. Why not a tranquilizer dart? An escaped zebra gets a dart but a person hugging a sign gets death? Or there is the case of the crazy naked man dancing in the street who was shot. Clearly he wasn’t hiding any weapons–he was naked! In many cases, the person cannot even respond to commands (too drunk, suffering a diabetic coma, doesn’t speak English, deaf, too noisy to hear) and the lack of immediate compliance results in assault by the officer. Who decided that police officer’s time is so valuable that if you don’t respond immediately they can beat you up? I think it has to do with authority–if you don’t respond immediately they take offense that you are disrespecting their authority. So the training should be that if someone is not an immediate threat, the officer should spend as much time as necessary to talk to, calm down, etc the person. For a human life, perhaps spending an hour to resolve the situation is ok. Just saying.

    1. Cops have gone from being the good guys with a difficult job to just another protection racket. At least it looks that way to me. Maybe I was just naive in the earlier part of my life.

  16. Like trying to chop down a mosquito with an axe, this is.

    While there are some fruits worth bearing here, most of it comes from talking points that won’t reduce police “violence”.

    The BLM was born out of some racially charged incidents, some of which were later proven to be justified. The bigger picture and a more dispassionate look at numbers show that police shoot maybe tens of unarmed black men a year.

    The media won’t make a fuss about black victims who couldn’t be saved by police or personal gun protection. Violent crimes have ticked up in big cities as the police have backed off. The LAPD admitted to under counting violent crimes. Putting the police under the scrutiny of the feds for every incident will likely cost more black lives. And the police union could probably pacify the BLM crowd by diversifying and doing outreach to community without making any real reforms.

    Police violence is close to non existent in many areas outside of the big cities. BLM was inactive when Kelly Thomas was murdered and they stupidly insist white people don’t get shot to death. They lob a lot of vindictive proposals that are merely punitive to the police (like having foreign entities check their activity). They seem to have grown up a bit, but I don’t trust this group. They’ll hurt their own vulnerable communities by alienating the police and possibly incite resentment from other groups with their stunts.

  17. Great idea, BLM. Let’s take it a step further, though, and compile a database of situations, and causes, of why police need to use force in the first place. We can track things like:

    1. type of perpetrators and what crimes they have committed or are in the process of committing;
    2. willingness of communities to assist with local law enforcement to prevent crime; and
    3. criminal profiles from which we can detect statistical trends in identity, background, etc., to enable local law enforcement to focus their efforts on problem areas.

    We can then act on this information to preempt any use of force by police, because the situations will not arise in the first place. For example, instead of the crack deal gone bad, the would-be perpetrators are instead volunteering at a homeless shelter before giving dissertations in some non-social-science field.

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