Police Union Privileges Revisited

The post below, Police Union Privileges, from 2018 is worth revisiting. As I wrote in a follow-up, police union privileges are only one part of a system and reform requires system-thinking. Nevertheless, getting rid of these special privileges, including so-called qualified immunity and restoring the equal rule of law are good places to start. Need I also mention that police should not keep fines and forfeitures–the negative consequences of which I documented in To Serve and Collect, my paper with Makowsky and Stratmann.


Earlier I wrote about how police unions in some parts of the country (especially common in NJ and NY, yet a firing offense in some other jurisdictions, edit 2020) give to every officer dozens of “get out of jail” cards to give to friends, family, politicians, lawyers, judges and other connected people. The cards let police on the street know that the subject is to be given “professional courtesy” and they can be used to get out of speeding tickets and other infractions. Today, drawing on the Police Union Contracting Project, I discuss how union contracts and Law Officer “Bill of Rights” give police legal privileges that regular people don’t get.

In 50 cities and 13 states, for example, union contracts “restrict interrogations by limiting how long an officer can be interrogated, who can interrogate them, the types of questions that can be asked, and when an interrogation can take place.” In Virginia police officers have a right to at least a five-day delay before being interrogated. In Louisiana police officers have up to 30 days during which no questioning is allowed and they cannot be questioned for sustained periods of time or without breaks. In some cities, police officers can only be interrogated during work hours. Regular people do not get these privileges.

The key to a good interrogation is that the suspect doesn’t know what the interrogator knows so the suspect can be caught in a lie which unravels their story. Thus, the Florida Police Bill of Rights is stunning in what it allows police officers:

The law enforcement officer or correctional officer under investigation must be informed of the nature of the investigation before any interrogation begins, and he or she must be informed of the names of all complainants. All identifiable witnesses shall be interviewed, whenever possible, prior to the beginning of the investigative interview of the accused officer. The complaint, all witness statements, including all other existing subject officer statements, and all other existing evidence, including, but not limited to, incident reports, GPS locator information, and audio or video recordings relating to the incident under investigation, must be provided to each officer who is the subject of the complaint before the beginning of any investigative interview of that officer.

By knowing what the interrogators know, the suspect can craft a story that fits the known facts–and the time privilege gives them the opportunity to do so.

Moreover, how do you think complainants feel knowing that the police officer they are complaining about “must be informed of the names of all complainants.” I respect and admire police officers but frankly I think this rule is dangerous. Would you come forward?

How effective would criminal interrogations be if the following rules held for ordinary citizens?

The law enforcement officer or correctional officer under interrogation may not be subjected to offensive language or be threatened with transfer, dismissal, or disciplinary action. A promise or reward may not be made as an inducement to answer any questions.

What does it say about our justice system that the police don’t want their own tactics used against them?

In the United States if you are arrested–even for a misdemeanor or minor crime, even if the charges are dropped, even if you are found not guilty–you will likely be burdened with an arrest record that can increase the difficulty of getting a job, an occupational license, or housing. But even in the unlikely event that a police officer is officially reprimanded many states and cities require that such information is automatically erased after a year or two. The automatic erasure of complaints makes it difficult to identify problem officers or a pattern of abuse.

Louisiana’s Police Officer Bill of Rights is one of the most extreme. It states that police have the right to expunge any violation of criminal battery and assault and any violation of criminal laws involving an “obvious domestic abuse.” Truly this is hard to believe but here is the law (note that sections (2)(a) and (b) do not appear, as I read it, to be limited to anonymous or unsubstantiated complaints).

A law enforcement officer, upon written request, shall have any record of a formal complaint made against the officer for any violation of a municipal or parish ordinance or state criminal statute listed in Paragraph (2) of this Subsection involving domestic violence expunged from his personnel file, if the complaint was made anonymously to the police department and the charges are not substantiated within twelve months of the lodging of the complaint. (2)(a) Any violation of a municipal or parish ordinance or state statute defining criminal battery and assault. (b) Any violation of other municipal or parish ordinances or state statutes including criminal trespass, criminal damage to property, or disturbing the peace if the incident occurred at either the home of the victim or the officer or the violation was the result of an obvious domestic dispute.

In an excellent post on get out of free jail cards, Julian Sanchez writes:

…beyond being an affront to the ideal of the rule of law in the abstract, it seems plausible that these “get out of jail free” cards help to reinforce the sort of us-against-them mentality that alienates so many communities from their police forces. Police departments that want to demonstrate they’re serious about the principle of equality under the law shouldn’t be debating how many of these cards an average cop gets to hand out; they should be scrapping them entirely.

Equality under the law also requires that privileges and immunities extend to all citizens equally.


One hundred percent agree with the proposals. It’s going to be fun watching the ummm kinda feral communities get policed under the new rules. Oh wait....they won’t be. Nothing will change in Normaltown, absolutely nothing. The communities that need policing....well that’s gonna be a shitshow.

Colin Kaepernick comes out looking like a "very stable genius" while Trump is stuck in the basement getting high on illegal drugs. He spent those years mocked and ridiculed mercilessly by the President and his troll army, and even fired very publicly from his job but he was dead on and now thoroughly vindicated. Today, protestors and sympathetic police officers across the country are now taking the knee in solidarity like Kaepernick did years ago.

* https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/seahawks/will-george-floyds-death-compel-people-to-finally-consider-substance-of-colin-kaepernicks-message/
* https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2020/06/02/colin-kaepernicks-friend-former-teammate-brandon-marshall-speaks-out-message/5316238002/
* https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-black-athletes-george-floyd-anger-20200602-hsnxnar5fjby7o24tsdycyaise-story.html

You won't get anywhere with that here. These guys are all in on #bunkerboy.

>Oh wait....they won’t be.
That's the predictable response.... so in our cost-benefit analysis on any reform plan, we probably should tally a few hundred additional poor/minority/female deaths-per-year.

Ah yes -- while all public sector unions are complete disasters and need to be banned, the only one Dems ever complain about are the police unions.

And while qualified immunity for public workers is a disgrace and needs to be outlawed, Dems like Tyler will only ever complain about it existing for police. DeBlasio killing 10,000 people by forcing infected people into nursing homes? No problems with immunity there.

And if you think Tyler is making baby steps towards the bigger picture here, he is not. He's just complaining about cops in an election year, because that's the 2020 plan, now that COVID has fizzled.

Police unions may be fine when it comes to negotiating salary, benefits, hours and working conditions but the power they have over disciplinary processes undermines the concept of civilian authority over the police. The closest analogy would be having a union of army soldiers that can get involved in disciplinary matters and has to be consulted before regulations and codes of conduct are revised. That would be considered by almost everybody to be a serious challenge to the constitutional order and civilian authority over the military.

You just described every public sector union.

Not quite. The police unions through the doctrines of qualified immunity and civil forfeiture have extra rights that teachers unions don't. For example, the legal immunity and protections when they act inappropriately, and the ability to deprive people of property just for being suspected of crime but not yet proven. A sample from Alex's link:

►Officers who stole $225,000.
►A cop who shot a 10-year-old while trying to shoot a nonthreatening family dog.
►Prison officials who locked an inmate in a sewage-flooded cell for days.
►SWAT team members who fired gas grenades into an innocent woman’s empty home.

Not really - teachers, bus drivers, and DMV employees don't get to hand out "get out of jail free cards" to their friends and family. Police unions are negotiating perks that no other public sector unions or Americans receive, like those cards, softer treatment during investigation/interrogation, and the ability to get their own criminal records expunged at will. No one else in the country gets those kinds of perks.

There is a balance to be struck.

On the one hand, job security in the public sector exists for a good reason: it prevents corrupt politicians from re-implementing the spoils system by firing public employees when they get into power and replacing them and doling out the jobs to lackeys or donors. On the other hand, the consequences are perverse when you shield law enforcement officers from accountability. The police should be seen as an institution that is more analogous to the military than, say, the public works department and there need to be safeguards in place to ensure that accountability and civilian control are always respected.

>re-implementing the spoils system

Would that be so bad? At least we'd then have clear political accountability....

Yes, it's bad. True tyranny of the majority. Take a look at Erdogan's Turkey for an example.

Imagine the entire public sector voting as a block towards any policy change those in charge request.

>True tyranny of the majority.
Vs. tyranny of an unelected minority?

>Imagine the entire public sector voting as a block
isn't that happening already? Made worse, because the public sector never changes composition??

Why guess? The US had this system over a century ago. If you want a view, I think it encourages corrupt political machines like Tammany Hall otherwise go hit the books and make up your own mind.

...That is actually what we see happen.

I don't believe in the spoils system, but why do we allow federal workers and contractors to vote in federal elections?

Same same for local and state.

It is a travesty.

Alex wrote this, not Tyler.

One of the cops fired as a result of the George Floyd incident was a member of a family with a number of cop members. This is common in many families involved in other occupations. The sons of farmers often become farmers. The offspring of carpenters drive nails themselves. But law enforcement is different. The children of cops can only learn what they know from their dinner table conversations, not direct experience, which is far more likely in other fields. Yet there is considerable nepotism in the police business that is based upon what?

Furthermore, the police union phenomenon is beyond a scandal. All public employees, cops included, should have to bid for their job annually, low bidder being hired, just as the low bidder sells the city copy paper, gasoline, and other commodities. If a bidder decides not to accept health care, retirement benefits, vacation, etc. that should be a part of his employment bid. Instead, we have situations like this.

Farmers may be a special case, but it's not the case that carpenters or welders commonly take their children to the jobsite. Similarly, the children of lawyers and doctors often become lawyers and doctors, respectively, and it's not because their fathers take them to work. I don't see where policemen are a special case.

They're a special case because policemen are public employees. A private business can hire anybody they want, relatives or incompetents. This shouldn't be the case in law enforcement where cops should be selected on the basis of knowledge and temperament.

I think that's why these protests ultimately meaningless. A loyal progressive can't acknowledge that a public sector union might create perverse incentives, hinder accountability, or decrease the quality of the public service provided. Therefore, our problems get re-cast as a good guy/bad guy story about racism, and there are no serious public policy goals advanced by people on the left beyond shouts of "end racism!"

What are you talking about? Protestors are literally chanting "No qualified immunity." It's not hard to find things to critize protestors about, you don't need to live in a fantasy world.

Thats the most positive thing I've heard in 2020. Can you give a reference or link?


A few quick examples - generally it's a very common discussion point and demand. [Probably because it's obvious and tangible.

Denmark has 'em apparently - military unions. Labour party proposed them in the UK (advocated by the left!).

I don't think there is a major concern that military unions would mean a military emancipating itself from public control. More that they would not be as responsive to chain of command.

Similarly in the police, deunionisation might well result in more police "just following orders" from the chain of command.

The issue with unions in the military, for western countries anyway, is that these unions are historically just organizing efforts from communists in foreign countries used to undermine the country's national security. See the unionization efforts in the British military in the early 20th century.

I don't know the issue but that certainly sounds like the British Left.

You do realize that NCOs, acting as official representatives of the soldiers, are required to be involved in disciplinary matters unless the enlisted member, specifically, declines their presence. Likewise it is required that they be consulted before regulations and codes of conduct are revised. This is literally part of the rationale for having E-9s.

Pretty much every single position that holds some level of public trust has this arrangement. We can face negative consequences for things that the general public cannot, but we also live in a weird space where the general public is bad at understanding things so we have most of the disciplinary actions mediated by peers.

Maybe this is bad, but it is not unusual nor has it undermined civilian authority over the military in the many decades where the enlisted have rights to have their peers involved in disciplinary processes.

The post is by Alex, not Tyler.

Evidently, American police badly needs reforming, but I think the greatest threat to our freedom nowadays is the Russian regime. I think we shouldmresist Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Don't worry, Putin is advising Trump on this crisis.

But Putin can not be trusted to put America's (and Ukraine's) interests above his regime's interests.

Falling for obvious Thiago trolling and engaging in conspiracy theorizing.

An anonymous double whammy

You are always less bright or less informed than you think you are.

It's merely an ironic comment on the fact that the president had another phone conversation with Putin yesterday. One that we only hear about because it was reported in the Russian press.

Strange that this has become the norm.

And it was a strange day to talk to Putin.

Had to look hard for that squirrel, didn't you? Meanwhile, minority-owned small businesses are being burned down by affluent young white people. Strange how little you seem to care.

Do you need to make up arguments like that?

I've said that I think everyone should just go home and be safe from the virus.

I think everyone from peaceful protesters and absolutely to full on rioters are making a mistake.

And yes the full on rioters make a mistake that is criminal. They should be arrested safely and prosecuted under our legal framework.

“Be safe from the virus”......ok how ‘bout staying out of hospitals and nursing homes....seems really effective

Maybe this is a good time to make a note.

The partisan left is going to say that everyone from protesters too rioters are out there doing good work.

The partisan right is going to say that no one whether they are a peaceful protester or a rider is out there doing good work.

Someone who is truly objective can distinguish between peaceful protest and riot.

And I guess if you're really objective you can say that mass protest in a pandemic is not such a good idea.

I did not double check that speech input, sorry. But I think it's readable.

The division you present is not really valid.

The left who'd say everyone is doing good work would have to say looters and rioters are doing good.

The right who'd say no one is doing good work would simply disagree with the protests as a movement.

These are not the same things. The former, advocating mob violence in the streets, is very radical. The latter is pretty modest and conventional.

The only middle you seem to "allow" is for people to agree with the goals of the protests but acknowledge the rioters. But that position's not "centrist". It's left wing.

I think you are willfully misreading me.

The distinction I draw is the conventional legal one.

We allow free association and public protest in this country. We have laws against violence.

This is nothing new.

Everyone does guilt by association for the other side and nobody agrees when its applied to their side.

Of course peaceful protesters aren't responsible for what other people do, like loot or riot. Despite a few woke idiots and right-wing idiots with media platforms, it's perfectly reasonable to support the protests and deplore the looting, arson, and rioting.

Not just "allow," there are fundamental rights in our democratic republic for public protest.

"president had another phone conversation" Like every other president. Kinda their job.

“He’s in his bunker, doing nothing!”

*does what leaders do, talks to advisors, other leaders*

“He’s getting his Putin talking points!”

How often does he talk to Iran' Ali Khamenei or Cuba's Raul Castro?

Probably less often than Putin, in line with the relative significance of the respective countries. What's your point?

oops, they1 did it again

Any defense of Trump and Russia was a defense of collusion, and more than that a normalization, leading to stuff like this:

Ahead of Trump Bible photo op, police forcibly expel priest from St. John's church near White House

A lot of you lol'd at the collusion and the authoritarianism, but here it is.

Only a few steps left to full Duterte.

The church was cleared of everyone because of the riotors you jackass. You really don't read your own links.

It's not surprising that a few people will be comfortable with priests ejected by police. But I'm actually sad that it's you, buddy.

+1 nice passive aggressive use of the word sad
only in liberal sociologyland
does" we need you to get off the church patio for 15 minutes" get deceptivily rebranded as
"priest forcibly expelled from church"

Do you think that was a good answer?

Who do you think owns that church patio? The priest or the president?

Especially if as most reports say there was no actual rioting going on.

It is a purely authoritarian move to call any protest a riot, and then crack down.

Sadly, and I use that word correctly, some of you seem to be on board with that.

+1 nice trick question
-neither the priest or the president owns the church patio.
-the church was damaged by left wing rioters
mebbe the priest will get damaged by the rioters/arsonists if he doesn't
tacitly support the goals of the arsonists
-the democratic liberal elite have milked the antifa cow for years
they now own the antifa cow arson
the president has a right to go to church (1st)
the priest has a right to be a histrionic

Highly emotional people think it was okay to gas people in Washington because they were riots in other cities entirely.

+1 nice postmodern obfuscation by causality pimping
you start with an imaginative non sequitar
and omit the riots in washington d.c.

I've seen no picture or video showing violence preceding Trump's expedition to capture the church.

Feel free to link it if you've got it.

+1 big semantical fail with "preceeding"
are you in an iron lung?
their have been riots arson et all in Washington d.c. for most of the last week (preceeding)church. cornpops not your free intern. do your own research

There you go. You are now explicitly arguing that if someone else rioted the day before, it's okay to gas protesters and priests the day after.

Authoritarian much?

+1 false inference
+1 nonsequitar
+1 funny conclusion

+1 predictable
only in liberal elite sociologyland do you get to so confidentlytell another person you don't know what they are explicitly saying before they give you a diagnosis!
in sweden this is considered fraughting

“They turned holy ground into a battleground,” said the Rev. Gini Gerbasi.

The cops tear gassed a bunch of rioters.
"Gerbasi, who serves as rector at a different Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown"
So not their church even, they were just there along with the other protesters, and had to leave with the other protesters. Again, read your own links.

I wonder how many of you were libertarians who used to talk about things being done "at the point of a gun."

And now you are like "gas that priest!"

If this sad little group is representative, we're in big trouble. Partisan Republicans have drank all the Kool-Aid.

They are down with gassing people because they're (peacefully) on the other side.

I'd be interested in the veracity of that, so much fake news comes out and then we find out it isn't true? Hmm.

The Religion News Service (RNS) is an old (1930s) organization, so I give them some provisional trust. But sure, read other sources as well.

5 years of screaming that we’re living in a poorly written Cold War thriller with a marionette POTUS controlled directly from Moscow with sexual blackmail as leverage.

Five years of you spamming every single economics paper blog post. This one is about police reform btw

Now we’re down to spamming “police remove rioters and potential riot victims”


That was not a very calm nor centrist answer.

Oh, according to this polll I can relax a little.

My views are mainstream.


By the way, are you a secret Boomer? See Table MC4_1.

This can get pretty extreme but the reality is that, despites rights to protest, *where* and when Americans exercise the right to protest will remain pretty highly regulated.

If you get protestors protesting without a permit, on a route where ensuring the safety of the person of the President is the paramount concern, they're gonna be told to disperse, and if they don't, they'll get made to.

First thing is the police should wait them out to disperse and give fair warning, but if they don't, better a few protestors get tear gassed than risk the potential for another JFK moment, or allow protestors to dictate when and where the President moves.

I mean, Jesus (literally), a president expelling priests from their church. How banana republic is that?

that "expelled" priest link is funny
+1 postmodern histrionic media shades&fubars the definition of expel

Watch it from this perspective:


cornpops cant do twitter.
whats it say
whats your point

wonder how many times the police warned em to move out of the street?
do liberal democrats really think they have are going to control the
movements of the president?

More on qualified immunity from Cato:


After multiple delays, SCOTUS is supposed to make a ruling soon on QI.

Totally agree with the post. I think you should always afford people due process rights, so one needs to not go overboard, but nothing in this post does do that. In fact, what it shows is that systemic protections beyond that which is normally accorded a civil servant, for example, can incentivize bad behavior because there is weak oversight, or make removal or discipline, less likely or effective.

A few posts ago there was a discussion about a "law and order" Minneapolis mayor who came from the police force and from their union, and who negotiated union agreements which today, according to reports, make it very difficult to discipline police officers, who often run to their union for their support and protection. Apparently, the state legislature has a study and some proposals. Here is a list of their recommendations, including have a state board that oversees discipline and investigation issues: https://www.minnpost.com/state-government/2020/05/a-minnesota-task-force-on-policing-recommended-28-reforms-for-deadly-force-incidents-after-george-floyd-will-its-report-get-a-serious-look/

Some may think this moment will lead to "law and order" movements; but I think it is more likely that it will lead to a serious look at the items mentioned in Alex's post.

Final note to think about: A friend who is doing a network analysis on the placement of bus routes through poor neighborhoods in such a way that it would minimize exposure to crime (a group consisting of academics and network analytics and marketing folks): mentioned something that the police member mentioned to him that you might want to think about:

The police officer said: This is a tough job, where you are exposed to danger and uncertainty. many in my profession suffer from PTSD symptoms, and self medicate through alchohol to deal with the stress. Our union contract medical benefits do not provide for mental health benefits. People should be lobbying for strong mental health and counseling benefits for police officers.

I don't know if it is true that under all circumstances mental health coverage is not available. I have no reason to doubt what I was told. But, I think it is important to ask what is the mental health coverage first responders have.. And, if it isn't there, it should be provided regardless of the contract, ie, it shouldn't be something that has to be negotiated or something that has to be exchanged for in a contract negotiation.

Just remembered: The police officer was arguing also for no deductible for mental health coverage. I don't know if counseling is part of the contract, nor do I know the extent of coverage for mental health. Since he mentioned deductible, there must be some coverage. He also mentioned stigma issues in seeking help.

I believe the suicide rate among police is quite high, which also suggests that counseling without too many career or stigma consequences would be a good thing.

Nice point about mental health coverage. I expect there's probably a social stigma to be overcome, too, even where coverage is available.

There's probably also a worry that it would be used against them in the future. Any subsequent complaint will capitalize on the news that Officer X underwent mental health treatment.

I am not an employment lawyer. But, there might be an evidentiary exclusion, or even favorable testimony from the treating professional. If the person is suffering, has anger management issues, is under pressure, and does nothing, it is more likely to lead to the problem, than if the person is treated, and then there is no problem. I am sure the same issue arises in the military as well.

What I thought was interesting was that in the Minneapolis matter, the wife of the officer quickly--I think that week--filed for divorce. That leads me to suspect--or infer--that there might have been marital problems or other issues that contributed to the behavior of the officer when he did his choke hold.

Do you want mentally ill police officers, or do you want one's who have addressed the problems. You want to make a path for them to seek help early, and you want to have everyone recognize they are dealing under stressful conditions. Also, supervisors can recognize and encourage an employee to seek mental help, just as I encourage Pence to have Donald seek it as well.


There was another interesting comment by the police officer on this issue of having non-deductible mental healthcare benefit: the union did not want to bargain for it because you would have to say our members have mental health issues and are not seeking help because they would have to pay for it. Sort of a signaling problem.

I would just give them free mental health benefits and threat them as a former military person gets mental health benefits for PTSD at the VA.

We have to recognize that people who deal with people who have problems develop problems themselves. Police have to deal with stressful conditions and need this type of assistance, whether they recognize it themselves, or whether a spouse points it out to them.

How about we talk about the millions of Americans under curfew and the cities across America that are being rioted and looted. Because what? 41 unarmed Americans were shot in 2019, and 9 were black.

Implicit or explicit support of this violence across America is a fucking disgrace.

Re: Implicit or explicit support of this violence

You are trying to conflate support for reforms or demonstrations seeking reforms or change as support for violence.

Yesterday, I white guy from Illinois was indicted for passing out explosives in Minnesota and seeking to start a riot: An Illinois man has been arrested on federal charges of crossing state lines to riot and possessing an unregistered destructive device, after he was accused of posting video to social media of himself handing out what he called “bombs” to protesters in Minneapolis.
Matthew Lee Rupert, 28, of Galesburg, Ill., was arrested early Sunday in Chicago for violating the curfew there.
The federal charges announced Monday come as Attorney General William P. Barr has blamed “outside radicals and agitators” for much of the violence in the nationwide protests of police brutality, saying they are “exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/matthew-lee-rupert-minneapolis-fbi/2020/06/01/32290d5c-a46e-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html

They're not wrong, we see well-funded and well-organized rioters come around in nearly every case of these riots.

BLM isn't the issue it is the wealthy, white anti-fa types who come in to stir up trouble and hand out money. They come in to minority neighborhoods and burn them down.

It is shameful.

At a guess, looting is probably mostly local criminals taking advantage of the situation. People tossing bombs are probably folks who have planned out lviolence for ideological reasons.

Uhhhh no, you need to get closer to the action apparently.

Go to the SnapMap on Snapchat and watch the videos at the hot spots around the country. It’s a disgrace, and it sure as shit isn’t a couple “outside radicals and violators.”

If you don’t have Snapchat, download it on your phone for that very purpose. It’s the most shameful thing I’ve ever witnessed country-wide in my entire life. This includes in neighborhoods two blocks from where I live in Hampton Roads, VA.

You get your news from Snapchat and ignore criminal complaints and newspapers or verified sources.

Got it.

LOL ok boomer

Your comment is meant to elicit an irrational response. The audience is not stupid, even though you think they are.

The audience doesn't need explanation, apparently you do.

I'm sure that the "news" you cited is true, and that there are some radicals and agitators making things worse. However, that is a very, very small sliver of what is going on. The media you use WILL NOT show you the *tens of thousands* of home-made videos by young black people, of young black people, that they share to their friends, unknowingly sharing to the world, because it doesn't support their narrative. But believe me, these riots and lootings are occurring across the entire country primarily by large groups of younger age black males.

I get that you think I'm conflating protestors with rioters, and perhaps I am to some extent. But many of the rioters are indisputably a subset of the protestors, getting support from the protestors, and lack of attention and deserved shaming from the media.

Furthermore, the protestors have no idea what they are protesting. Ask them, and the only mildly descriptive answers you will get are "justice for George Floyd" or "police brutality against blacks," both of which are illegitimate. George Floyd's murderer has been charge with murder; justice will be served. Nine black unarmed black people were killed by cops in 2019, out of 41 total; hardly statistically significant discrimination.

I don't get my news from Snapchat, I get my news from MR. I see firsthand what is happening across the world via Snapchat, because it's truly an incredible platform to do so (mostly from un-educated people who don't know or care about the privacy settings). Honestly, you should try it.

That is "LOL ok boomer" unwrapped. I don't need "verified sources" to tell me what the news is when I am young and resourceful enough to get first-hand accounts (which do no need verification because they are *first-hand* on my own.

Last paragraph is messed up, should read:

That is "LOL ok boomer" unwrapped. I don't need "verified sources" to tell me what the news is when I am young and resourceful enough to get first-hand accounts (which do not need verification because they are *first-hand*) on my own.

You can use SnapMap from a browser, just go to map.snapchat.com

I can't currently verify from my work computer, but if this is legit then

I am not telling you what to read or not. But, if you get stuff from unverified sources--like today's reported incident of a white supremacist group posing as Antifa--you have a problem.

Go wherever you want to for information. But, if you want others to rely on your information, post a link to it. And, see if you can defend it.

If you eat garbage,
You can usually
Smell the breath.

For those interested (not you Bill, you won't be able to figure out how to use it)... the map.snapchat.com listed above does indeed work from a browser.

I'll explain a little bit for those that haven't used Snapchat before:
-I'd say 90% of people under the age of 30 use Snapchat
-Privately, people can send single use pictures/videos to specific friends that automatically erase after the recipient views them
-There is something call a "story" where the user can take a picture or video that can be made visible to *all* of their friends for a 24 hour period. Friend lists on Snapchat are usually much smaller than other social media, there is no upvote/downvote/like/etc. system involved. There is no ranking of any kind of friends' stories. You either click on it to watch it, or you never see it.
-The "SnapMap" was something created a few years back with location services. It allows you to look at a map of the world, see where your friends are currently located (if they allow it), and see hotspots of user activity.
-If you click on a colored hotspot, you can see the Stories posted by people in that area for 24 hours, *if* those people have their Snap Story settings set to public, *and* location services turned on
-The vast majority of educated and privacy conscious users do not want their Snapchat friends knowing where they are constantly, so they turn location services for the app off. Also, many users do not want their Stories to be public, so that setting is private as well. This means that hotspots really have to be packed with lots of people in one spot to become a hotspot... and usually hotspots consist of lower class folks who don't know or care about privacy.
-By clicking on a zoomed out hotspot, say all of NYC, you will then be shown every single public Story posted in the confines of your finger click in backwards chronological order. So say you clicked on NYC now, you'd have to skip through a lot of Stories to get to videos from last night.
-If you zoom in, the hotspots become more precise, and you can click on more specific map regions. This allows you to get to Stories posted farther back in time more quickly.
-It's basically intuitive for normal tech users and young people.

Anecdote: I found out there was a shooting in Virginia Beach near where I live, in a very black district, about the same time I was walking home the night prior. I was interested, so I went to the SnapMap to find out if someone posted a video of the incident. Instead, I found videos with a time-lateness of 2 minutes of groups of black people looting Virginia Beach stores and being tear-gassed by the cops. As I progessed backwards in time, I watch the violence de-morph into a protest. Then I searched the rest of the country, and became horrified.

Thank you.

Does that mean that a Russian, North Korean, or Iranian disinformation specialist can post as well and be your source of information.

if so, how do you know the source of your information. Answer below.

By the way, did you know:

"New York (CNN Business)A Twitter account that tweeted a call to violence and claimed to be representing the position of "Antifa" was in fact created by a known white supremacist group, Twitter said Monday. The company removed the account.

Before it emerged the account was run by white supremacists, Donald Trump Jr., President Donald Trump's son, pointed his 2.8 million Instagram followers to the account as an example how dangerous Antifa is." https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/02/tech/antifa-fake-twitter-account/index.html

By the way, my son wanted me to load Citizen app, but I pointed out that the location features of the app that actually raised privacy concerns.

L, I can see from your comments that you might not be aware of network propaganda and disinformation. So, you might want to look up the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard and look at how disinformation is created on the internet and how it is disseminated before you rely on unverified sources.

I'm sorry my friend, your age is getting to you. It's time to let the young bucks take over from here.

As I said before, and will say again, you are acting irrationally and designed to elicit an emotional response as well as trying to form an ingroup relationship with others. But, they are smarter than you and will not react to what you say and will instead rely on reason because they are more mature than you are.

George Floyd wasn't shot and neither were a bunch of others so that statistic is red herring/non sequitur which is tangential to a broader issue.

But if you think that protesting that police can literally asphyxiate a guy to death while he's in full custody I guess that's just like your opinion man.

Nice strawman, man.

Those numbers are astronomically low, so let's make a guess and say that an equal amount of people across the U.S. are killed by cops with physical force (though I say this is probably an overestimate--far more than half of all murders across the U.S. are shootings).

Let's make another guess and say that the proportion of unarmed blacks killed with physical force by cops is double the proportion that are shot (I chose double because, you know, racism--to appease you).

Those very likely overestimates lead to numbers of 82 total deaths by physical force across the US annually and 36 of them black. Guess what? That is *still* very unlikely to be statistically significant discrimination based on the proportion of violent crimes that are committed by blacks.

This seems the appropriate blog post for me to link this extraordinary essay by Anne Applebaum: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/07/trumps-collaborators/612250/

Wow, that was quite the read.

I failed to see how that was anything but trying to justify future abuses of law? Can't be a fascist if you haven't set the stage properly. Attempting to identify the untermensch and deplorables ahead of time, so when the night happens, it will be applauded.

On further review, that article is literally the DNC trying to justify corruption and classic TDS, while trying to paint Trump as some Nazi.

Seriously? Grow up a bit and watch what is going on, we are starting to see the narratives fall apart.

Excellent post.
The inherent problem with police departments is not just racism, it’s their attitude of being above the law. It’s the broken window theory in another context. If you are not held accountable for smaller infractions because you are a police officer, you end up believing you can kneel on a person’s neck until he dies and get away with it.

Curios that Alex never asks why these provisions are in law in so many places, nor how they all entered around the same time.

The answer is that these bills attempt to codify the core legal findings of Garrity vs New Jersey and Gardner vs Broderick among other court rules. Eliminating the laws would not remove these core legal precedents and while you could certainly trim the privileges, you are asking for a long drawn out legal fight wherein the cops have historically won.

And frankly police should have a different process than the populace. When most people fail to abide by the rules of their job the consequences are merely loss of employment with no reference for future employment. When a police officer fails, much of the time it involves legal failings (e.g. unduly depriving another of liberty) that is a codified crime. These bills are an attempt to allow police forces to have some semblance of your normal HR investigation rather than every disciplinary hearing turning into a full legal battle.

Physicians have a weak form of this as well. Absent consent, in some form, all medical treatment is medical battery. When physicians err we can lose our jobs, but we can also be sued for malpractice and medical battery. These means that most hospital contracts have arcane rules for how the process changes when there are likely legal ramifications. Likewise, our morbidity and mortality discussions are completely privileged from legal discovery (we can admit full fault, drill down in detail to why malpractice happened, and if a defense lawyer even hears of it the "poisoned tree" can render other evidence moot).

I do not pretend to know the optimal legal policy for making things different for those of us who allegedly have heightened professional responsibility. What I do know is that when things are not codified, the profession will protect its own in far more egregious manners if history is any guide. Likewise, I do know that the legal risks faced by cops (false complaints) and the like, are far above and beyond the average member of the public. Certainly there is a reason that cops have close to double the national suicide rate and likewise have a lot of other indicators suggesting that the job has deleterious long term consequences.

I have always been skeptical of public sector unions and I wholly suspect that the rules have evolved over time as a set of perks negotiated by the unions. Yet the core reason these sorts of things should exist is not going to go away if you pull the get-out-of-jail-free cards or other perks.

Police are still going to be employees, civil servants, and criminal suspects at the same time. When every HR review can result in jail time you have to do something, otherwise every investigation will bog down with lawyers and invocation of legal rights.

"And frankly police should have a different process than the populace. When most people fail to abide by the rules of their job the consequences are merely loss of employment with no reference for future employment. When a police officer fails, much of the time it involves legal failings (e.g. unduly depriving another of liberty) that is a codified crime."

First, that's not quite true. If you assault an co-worker, steal office supplies, attempt to reimburse forged receipts, etc., these are both crimes and things that can get you fired and HR and Legal are free to submit their evidence to the police once they deal with you on the administrative side.

Second, if the alleged misconduct is of the sort that is covered by qualified immunity -- which is already broad enough to protect police from most nuisance claims for assault, wrongful imprisonment, etc. -- then there is all the more reason to go hard during administrative proceedings. Things that happen there are unlikely to get the officer sued or thrown in jail and so the goal should be to protect the police as an institution and to protect the general public from bad behavior.

To add to this, two cops in Fresno, CA stole $225,000 and there was no legal redress. I understand that police have a unique role in society and we don't want to drown them in red tape but this is absolutely insane. In America even the Executive branch has checks and balances but here there's no accountability at all for local law enforcement.


Assaulting a co-worker is not a core function of any job I know outside of MMA and the like. A core function of policing is arresting people. If you screw up a core function at work (e.g. you make bad coffee as a barista, you have shoddy lines as a welder) your boss can investigate and fire you if you refuse to comply with the investigation.

If a cop improperly arrests someone that is a crime. It has been held multiple times that cops cannot be forced to comply with an investigation into their core job responsibilities if it might endanger them with criminal liability. Like it or lump it, the courts have held that police departments cannot for compliance in a manner that exposes the officer to criminal risk.

The waiting periods, the knowledge of the accusations, etc. all of this is to ensure that officers comply with investigations rather than turning each and every one into a full legal proceeding.

And frankly if you want to go hard in administrative proceedings, you need a shield so that police do not gum up the works with their legally recognized protections.

I often find myself alone in this, but I generally prefer a far higher bar for prosecuting cops and far lower bar for dismissing them from the force. But you cannot get them without some sort of qualified immunity (which Alex appears to advocate revoking) and some sort of process that shields day-to-day process improvement from legal liability (e.g. our M&Ms can involve direct admission of fault and we can fire the responsible physician, but none of that can be used in criminal or civil legal cases because it is too important to let the system correct than to gum up the works with legal proceedings).

As I say, I am not a cop and do not know what the tradeoff will be that is optimal. But we live in a world where the courts have held that cops enjoy constitutional protections against being forced to comply with investigations when they might place themselves in legal jeopardy. Given the multitudinous laws about police misconduct this is pretty much 100% of the places they make mistakes and errors. So either they get some process than insulates them from legal risk, or departments are shackled with legal proceedings every time they even want to investigate (and who here thinks there will be more internal investigations if their cost increases 10-fold?).

I don't know optimal tradeoff, but there will be a tradeoff between legal insulation and common application of law.

I agree with you on qualified immunity and having different standards for criminal prosecution versus dismissal or administrative sanctions. If a police officer invokes his fifth amendment right and refuses to answer any questions as part of an investigation into his 25th excessive force complaint, that's fine. But the department should be able to draw reasonable -- not necessarily proof-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt --conclusions from the evidence it has and take actions ranging from reassignment to salary cut to outright dismissal.

The doctrine of qualified immunity as developed by the courts has more to do with civil immunity than it does immunity from criminal prosecution. While I think that the doctrine needs re-examining as regards to some of the details, I don't think qualified immunity is per se a bad policy.

One of the main reasons for qualified immunity is that government officials (let's restrict it here to police officers) make dozens of discretionary decisions each day that potentially open them up to civil suits. In particular, police officers who interact with the public on largely criminal matters should be protected from inevitable frivolous suits that would surely occur if the standard for liability were substantially different. Police officers routinely testify in criminal suits for the prosecution. How many of those charged with crimes, for example, would be tempted to start or threaten a (frivolous) suit in order to put pressure on the police officer in an attempt to influence testimony? If police officers were subject to the same standard "as everyone else" I doubt there would be many willing to take the job. They likely would be bankrupted in the first year simply by virtue of the legal costs they would be subjected to.

Why not make it more difficult for *anyone" to file a frivolous suit against *anyone*?

Because we want to be efficient in our justice.

Making it harder to file a frivolous lawsuit also makes it harder to file a legitimate one. Even something simple like "loser pays" will deter people who run up against a flashy defense attorney who steamrolls them with jargon and the cost of their "loser payment".

So, like most things in life, this is a trade off. You want the rules to be such that you let through a very tiny number of frivolous lawsuits as the price of not deterring too many legitimate ones. If 50% of the lawsuits likely to be filed against you we want something pretty close to 50% of the lawsuits to be deterred.

But some professions have much higher rates of frivolous lawsuits. Forensic psychiatrists are both among the most sued and least likely to lose in the medical profession. Which is not surprising, the people suing them are typically mentally ill and have severe difficulties with basic logic and navigating reality.

It makes sense to have certain activities, like policing or being a forensic psychiatrist, to have more barriers to filing a lawsuit. After all the pre-test probability for these professional activity related lawsuits is very high for frivolity.

Tie the privilege to the activities being done (e.g. like how postal delivery vehicles can use right-hand drive, whereas no one else can even import them) and call it a day.

There's also the issue that under-policing has significant externalities as we've seen over the last few days. Even if you're inclined to say that that's just property, the political effects should worry you. Mayhem in the streets is going to drive female suburban voters to Trump

None of this would have happened if we had more “under-policing” and the police hadn’t killed someone for being suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill in the first place.

And Trump’s re-election odds have been falling on PredictIt and are now below Biden’s for the first time. People blame those in power when things go wrong.

Most people aren't going to accept the argument that the killing of Floyd justifies any number of additional homicides, any number of minority-owned businesses destroyed by white kids, any number of bookstores burned and news offices vandalized. Most people want to go out at night and don't want to live without laws, and they're going to draw some sort of moral lines. It's hard to see how "You Had It Coming" is going to be a winning message for the Democrats (particularly given that Minneapolis and its police department are Democratic-run).

Tom, I respectfully disagree.

People will not choose a police state
Under the mantra of "Law and Order"
Over the necessary correction of
Police department management or oversight.

You need to fix the problem first.

And, the problem started with police practices from a public that has low trust or low interaction with the police force other than as an harasser.

60 percent of people want the military in the streets I’ll take that over predict it any day. Especially since I won something like 8500 dollars on there last election betting on trump at 36 cents.

Yes the process should be different; the police should be held to a HIGHER standard!

I actually concur but I recognize the difficulty of actual implementation.

Suppose police were required to talk to the public not merely by abstaining from threats of violence, slanderous statements, and the like, but were also required to be courteous and respectful (as in the regs for a lot of departments). How do you enforce this?

For a normal employer, you receive a complaint, you investigate, and if the employee refuses to cooperate you fire them. The Supreme Court has held that this is illegal for police officers. They cannot be forced to comply if it might risk them being charged with slander. Absent some process, every investigation into disrespectful address would get bogged down with lawyers, Garret warnings, and God knows how much paperwork.

On the flip side, if you have a full process in place where the cops know if they are being accused of violating regs (disrespectful) instead of laws (slander) you can induce compliance with a less threatening investigation.

Absent some sort of carve out, holding officers to a higher standard is utterly impossible. Every investigation will face massive costs, so only the most serious complaints will even be investigated. Absent a process, the higher standard cases will also be much more likely to be dismissed as the profession protects its own.

There is a cost to having legal risk in any system. If you get rid of the risk mitigation every complaint bears the full cost. Making complaints more costly investigate means fewer and only more severe complaints will be investigated.

While I agree that the behavior of cops should be held to much higher standards, you simply cannot do so under the current legal regime without some sort of carve out.

In every case like this I am aware of, there are other officers watching and doing nothing, and there are officers lying about what happened.

What do you think happens in a system where officers have no hesitation to lie about everything - from traffic stops to murders.

Re: "These bills are an attempt to allow police forces to have some semblance of your normal HR investigation rather than every disciplinary hearing turning into a full legal battle."

I am sure you would agree that none of what Alex posted is a "normal" HR investigation. Nowhere near it. I am for the same civil service protections for police as for social workers who often deal with the same types of people. And, even bus drivers or transit police or a custodian or a mental health workers, prison guards , etc.

As for doctors, as you must know if you are one, they often meet to discuss their failings or review cases where they critique each other. And, there are internal and external review boards. No human is perfect, and doctors recognize that but still strive to be better and learn from their own and other's mistakes.

But, there is no excuse for protecting people from their own mistakes. Otherwise, we live to see them repeated.

That's not exactly my experience with Doctors. I have doctors in the family. And I contact them when contemplating a procedures: they tell me who to avoid, because his peers all say he is a hack.

I am grateful for this inside information. But I also wonder why the doctor is still practicing, and why only insider whispers are aware of this, if that's the case.

Bill....would you be a police officer in any “slightly” unsafe area without some from of qualified immunity? Actually....would you suggest anyone else do the same? I get arrested....I sue the individual cop for battery....the arrests will stop....hard.

Be more specific. Qualified immunity is a legal issue and describe what you mean by it.

Now, if you are trying to conflate Qualified Immunity with oversight, you are wrong. Qualified immunity does not relate to that. What we are talking about is oversight, review and discipline, and due process.

As for the assertion of battery example, people who exercise authority--be it police officers, social workers withholding support, probation officers, consumer protection lawyers, EPA enforcers, Department of Natural Resources officers, can always be threatened by those who object to their enforcement of the law. So what. Their department stands behind them.

Good luck on falsely threatening a cop for battery. People probably say a lot of things when they get arrested, thinking it will work to get them released. Yeah, sure.

I have seen the false accusations happen quite frequently. In the hospital. With multiple witnesses. Who all tell the accused they saw nothing like what was being described.

With a nice judge those involved merely had to submit affidavits and it only cost the hospital a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars in lost man hours and legal fees (we have to make sure that all statements are HIPAA compliant). I am told that the law enforcement side typically is a multiple larger on the cost. When it goes to court, well we might be out several thousand in legal costs and lost man-hours. None of them have ever resulted in judgments against the police.

But the thing is, many of these patients are not trying to "win". They are simply trying to use the process as punishment. Sure, in the long run their word becomes mud and they eventually are unlikely to be believed even if telling the truth, but if they were good long term thinkers they would not be engaged in petty crime with high likelihoods of arrest for low potential payouts. The only ones who try to get off from police brutality that I have seen are too dumb to realize they will never win from obviously false accusations. The average one is just trying to make life hard for the cops (and have been amendable to not making their accusation formally when I say things like "hey we are short-staffed this month, could we not have the nurse/RT/whatever be listed as a witness, how about that staff member instead?").

Do not underestimate the value of raw spite in driving lawsuits and criminal complaints. The average malpractice case that makes it to court in my group was driven out of spite. Their attorneys have literally told them that they are going to lose, made them pay out of pocket to go to trial, and they duly lose at trial. Yet they feel wronged and want to lash out someone (e.g. I'm sorry your unborn child was functionally dead before you got in the ambulance, car crashes can do that; thrombectomy has a known risk arterial perforation, sorry it was your dad).

Worse, remember also that a lot of things that keep a normal person from abusing the legal system are moot in these cases. No job means you can go to court whenever. No assets means that even if we had loser pays, you don't care. Social isolation means that few, if any of your friends will shun you. Being incarcerated means that you have an advocate who has to help you fill out the forms to make your case.

So what? Exactly how much more do you want things to cost? How many hundreds of thousands should be budgeted towards removing whatever protections you dislike from shielding cops from malicious tort? Because that is what "standing behind them" means - cutting large checks to pay for a process.

My responses are below but not posted here for some reason.


Read the governing Supreme Court cases. The law is that officers have a constitutional right not to comply with an investigation and cannot be fired for refusal to comply.

You cannot force police officers to state "what happened". Per the Supreme Court they have constitutional right to not comply. So now you have a choice - you can have investigations where the cops routinely refuse to answer questions, routinely ask for legal representation, and routinely suck down time and money mitigating their legal risk … or you can have some sort of carve out.

You can blame the Supreme Court but normal HR proceedures (cooperate or else) are constitutionally forbidden for cops.

As far as doctors, as I mentioned above the meetings you describe are formally known as "morbidity and mortality conferences" or more commonly as "M&Ms". We have them routinely and run through every death, significant adverse event, and near miss (error that could have caused harm but did not). The only way on earth that we could ever have frank discussions in those is if the normal rules of evidence did not apply. We have been given specific carve outs from normal evidentiary law. What I say at an M&M cannot be used in a civil or criminal case. If a lawyer from the other side gets M&M notes, he cannot use them and risks having other evidence get poisoned and dismissed. If we opt to recommend firing a specific person (e.g. an ICU nurse) at an M&M and that is also privileged. Our remediation plan decided upon at an M&M, also privileged.

Cops need some similar sort of carve out. When every mistake and error could potentially be career ending (as it is in medicine and policing) a lot of normal functions grind to a halt absent legal risk mitigation.

One option is qualified immunity. Which I grant has been stretched towards being a joke, but Alex appears to be wholesale against it. One is a carve out from normal evidentiary and criminal justice norms.

But there is no cost-free option. You remove all the mitigations of legal risk and you pay the price where every investigation becomes incredibly expensive and time consuming. You turn qualified immunity into a blanket immunity and you get senseless deaths. It is a tradeoff, not a wholesale set of dubious professional perks.

Cite the cases you are referring to and any law review articles that say this as well.

Also, cite any case or law review article that disputes the following:

"Law enforcement officers are entitled to qualified immunity when their actions do not violate a clearly established statutory or constitutional right. The objective reasonableness test determines the entitlement. The officer is judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the vision of 20/20 hindsight."

I will provide my sources when you first come forward with support for a challenge to what I have just asserted.

Ball is in your court for you to support your assertion. Cite to authority and law reviews, please. And, address the quote I just gave you above.

I already did, by name, in the post you critiqued.

“The option to lose their means of livelihood or pay the penalty of self-incrimination is the antithesis of free choice to speak or to remain silent.”

Is the current controlling opinion on the constitutionality of compelling officer compliance in cases that involve potentially illegal behavior by officers. Thanks to our laws, this is basically anytime a police officer fails to perform their job properly (wrongful arrest, false statements, excessive force ... all of them are de jure crimes).

You cannot compel cops to comply with investigations through the normal means. The Police Officers Bills of Rights were a direct response to the cases I cited above. So if departments want to conduct investigations into officer behavior they must do it in a manner to elicit, rather than compel the officers. You cannot do it the way I can at the hospital (answer the questions or turn in your ID) so it has to be something else.

Do they need the specific provisions Alex objects to? Search me.

Do they need something? Yes. Otherwise the alternative is not cops being investigate like the rest of us; it is the cops just not being investigated because it is too costly.

As I said above, this is a trade off. The more carve outs you grant (like M&M's being completely shielded from normal evidence rules), the easier it is to have investigations at all. The more carve outs you grant, the harder it is to punish wrong doers outside of the ranks.

Cops need something, and that realization that he is dealing with a tradeoff seems sorely lacking from Alex's post.

I don't see the cite you are referring to, nor do I see any cites to opinions or law review articles that support your position or contradict the quote I posted.. I see other peoples comments citing authority and do not see your response to those either.

Please post below the cites, cases, and/or law reviews that support your claim and dispute the quote I posted above.

Bill, they are called Garrity warnings for a reason. The guiding cases were:

Garrity vs New Jersey and Gardner vs Broderick

If you fail to give a police officer a Garrity warning, they get off in totality. That's the law. If some one complains of excessive force, a cop can refuse to cooperate and your choices are give him blanket criminal immunity for that or any related charges or deal with a legal proceeding.

In practice, pretty much all police conduct is a crime in some fashion. In practice, pretty much every investigation will grind to a halt without officer compliance.

In practice, the kludge widely adopted is to give officers all manner of exceptions to normal rules so the departments can function instead of being locked forever in costly legal proceedings to do any sort of internal oversite that might (but need not) uncover crimes.

I am not a lawyer, I just treat a lot of prisoners and I have been party to enough of this to understand that this world is not a normal one. Garrity means that cops are going to get some carve out or they will never be investigated in the first place.

That is just a precomplaint investigative warning and has nothing to do with the fact that the officer has to comply with both the law and the constitution.

You do not understand the difference between procedure (ala Miranda) and substantive law, or, if you do, you are hoping others don't. Second, your response does.

There is a difference between a substantive violation of law e.g. violation of law acting under the color of law (just look up Bivens) and warnings that must be given and penalties for not testifying.

Either you don't know, or you don't care, or you don't understand.

By the way, here is the holding of the 1967 case you cite: " The threat of removal from public office under the forfeiture of office statute to induce the petitioners to forgo the privilege against self-incrimination secured by the Fourteenth Amendment rendered the resulting statements involuntary, and therefore inadmissible in the state criminal proceedings. "

That holding doesn't by any means give immunity to a police officer for violation of law, or the constitution. You clearly do not understand the difference between substantive law and procedural law, or otherwise all police officers, under your reading, would be able to violate the constitution or law. They can't.

What is know is what I see and am told. What do you think happens when you give a police officer a Garrity Warning?

Do you think they just roll over and run with it? Or do you think they demand some sort of protection before they continue? Further what happens when an officer declines to cooperate out of fear (reasonable or otherwise) of self-incrimination?

You cannot fire them for refusal to answer. You cannot force them to waive their right against self-incrimination. As long as they lack immunity, they can and do refuse to answer things that might cause problems for them.

The Police Officer's Bill of Rights did not arise in a vacuum, it explicitly arose following this legal finding. Alex appears to want to get rid of qualified immunity. Which means risk of lawsuits goes up, ceteris paribus. He also wants to get rid of the special interrogation procedures and the union contracts. Which again means the risks goes up for cops being investigated.

Given that all they have do is say "No I will not proceed without immunity." How exactly do you intend to have an investigation? If you do what Alex proposes the practical effect is that there will be fewer investigations, not more, as their costs will rise.

You can dress this fact up however you want, but all these procedures and union rules were historically a response to Supreme Court cases that stripped departments of their most powerful threats for non-compliance with investigations. Absent a change in law, the underlying issue will still be there only we will be trying to find something new after having annoyed the police unions.

Again this is not the best of all possible worlds, but it is the world we live in. One where your most basic investigation into competency on the job will most often lead to a place where you cannot compel an individual to answer basic questions.

For those of you who are interested, this is what Qualified Immunity is:

"Specifically, qualified immunity protects a government official from lawsuits alleging that the official violated a plaintiff's rights, only allowing suits where officials violated a “clearly established” statutory or constitutional right. When determining whether or not a right was “clearly established,” courts consider whether a hypothetical reasonable official would have known that the defendant’s conduct violated the plaintiff’s rights. Courts conducting this analysis apply the law that was in force at the time of the alleged violation, not the law in effect when the court considers the case." Here is a link: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/qualified_immunity

I'm fine with removing the taxpayers' qualified immunity but that means there will be less arrests and more police responses along the line of, we'll get to it when we get to it and you should just notify your property insurer instead. I can see a lot of economic dead zones developing in response to cops avoiding legally and physically fraught arrests.

Indeed. Four police officers were shot in St. Louis last night, and the Washington Post reported it as, "violent clashes escalate."

If the police refuse to come 'help' me unless they have a legal guarantee that they can murder me without any consequences, I prefer they don't come.

Which is fine--though you apparently are thinking about some different scenario than calling 911 because somebody is trying to break into your neighbor's house--but it means the higher-tier neighborhoods will hire Blackwater and the lower-tier neighborhoods will be patrolled by McMichaels with shotguns.

Obviously immunity is misused. Not to mention creates perception problems.

Curious though, why this same blog is also arguing that preemptive immunity is required to facilitate opening the economy (and presumably to spur vaccine creation, which is already in place with blanket preemptive immunity).

Does immunity provide important public benefits that outweigh the bad actors who exploit it, and the obvious perverse incentives it creates?

*(For the record, I do endorse clarity about standards of conduct and best practice safe harbors. But that's not how immunity usually turns out as it makes its way past the lobbyists.)

All great proposals and, notably, mostly ones that can be and could already have been enacted by the same progressive mayors and governors who now express support the protests. When the protesting and rioting are over, what are the chances of these mayors and governors actually enacting the necessary state and local reforms and pushing through changes in police contracts? Based on history I'd say the chances are between slim and none.

It appears to me that this is mostly political theater for the presidential election in November. Progressives will scream and shout at Trump (who has virtually no power over local police forces) and excuse/ignore local politicians who have always had the power to enact most of the needed reforms of the police forces they control.

There is no chance of reform. Because: The Police State is Failing Us (tm).

The police will not be reformed by progressive mayors any more than the FDA will be reformed by conservative Presidents.

They are rogue agencies, impervious to pressure, operated by entrenched faceless career criminals that cannot be swayed by leadership, politics, transparency, or budgets. They cannot be dislodged or swayed by scandal, abject failure, or broad ridicule.

Political appointees at the top tiers don't mater. Budgets don't matter. Legal challenges don't matter. Controlling the communications doesn't matter. Controlling the promotions doesn't matter.

They are all vampire squid attached to the face of the nation. (Oh wait, that one has been used.)

>They are rogue agencies, impervious to pressure, operated by entrenched faceless career criminals that cannot be swayed by leadership, politics, transparency, or budgets. They cannot be dislodged or swayed by scandal, abject failure, or broad ridicule.

>Political appointees at the top tiers don't mater. Budgets don't matter. Legal challenges don't matter. Controlling the communications doesn't matter. Controlling the promotions doesn't matter.

George, is this a different side of you? I found common ground with us here and I'm surprised by your sudden change in views.

We actually need different politicians, we need real change, not hope and change or a ham strung, hamfisted trumpian version of change.

No change in views. I don't buy the "FDA is a faceless omnipotent zombie" narrative any more than I buy the idea that cops are always honest and have a uniquely tough job and shouldn't have to follow the same rules as the rest of us.

It's all bullshit; these organizations are reflections of their leadership and the priorities that are communicated through budgets, peer pressure, prosecution, and promotions.

Complex; sure. Challenging; absolutely. Paralyzed and incoherent as a reflection of a paralyzed schizophrenic nation; of course. But un-tethered evil zombies? Of course not.

Both respond to leadership and budgets and transparency and their cultures are a reflection of how those tools have been applied. Both can be reformed if there is will to do so.

Leadership and budget allocations matters for these agencies, obviously, because we sure as hell argue about that enough to show the concern is more than just political posturing. "Control of the spoils" as the saying goes.

We definitely agree that we get what we ask for from both sides of the aisle. And we ask little and are getting less.

I have this weird and lonely belief that money matters, that power is mostly applied in ways we don't see, that people in power get what they want more often than not, and that we are in a national crisis of lies and low expectations and bullshit.

The only one throwing around the terms evil and zombie is you. A lot of emotionalizing and moralizing, and no substance. Tsk tsk.

Neat strawman though!

The real position from Public Choice of course is that incentives matter in both the public and private sphere. No need to emotionalize or moralize anything

We’ll see if any of these burning cities decide to change the incentives of the rank and file police union members.

I’ll bet against

Are you new to this blog skep?

The zombie theme has been recurrent by its authors.

But then you already knew that.

yip! yip!

1) Public sector unions AND police unions both create problems. Both should be addressed. Alex has actually addressed public sector unions (he is not a fan) in the past, but this was a post about the police.

2) They do need some different considerations since they sometimes need to use force. However, that is no reason why they should be able to expunge their past criminal record or have special rules that make it harder to investigate them. No reason they get to hand out get-out-of-jail cards. If I shoot my ex-wife I will get interrogated that day. I cant seen any reason why the police should not have to answer questions for 30 days.


Thats not true. You will most likely never be interrogated. You will simply invoke your right to remain silent. Boom, interrogation over. Police Officers do not surrender their constitutionally guaranteed right to remain silent.

The rules regarding interrogation wait times apply to internal administrative investigations. Not criminal. During internal investigations Officers are provided a Garrity warning. It stems from a SCOTUS case. Because officers are being ordered to answer questions under threat of punishment, the answers are not admissible in court, hence why internal investigations rarely ever start until a criminal investigation is complete. Prosecutors do not want the problem of a possible Garrity violation that would taint evidence.

Real estate is not a good investment. It's not pandemic proof nor is it riot proof. No wonder the real estate genius in the White House does so poorly on both accounts.

Great post.

"Police union privileges are only one part of a system and reform requires system-thinking"

I would like to see AT and others go farther and and help the legitimately frustrated, non-violent protest groups come up with that systematic reform agenda. One thing that has stood out to me during these protests is they don't seem to have a goal. During the civil rights movement, you could point to the civil rights act, integration, and other things and say, "that's what they want". It could be because legitimate asks are overshadowed by the rioters, but I don't understand what these protesters want. I bet AT could help them come up with a coherent agenda.

The riots highlight the need for law enforcement--"defund the police" is probably not something many of us in cities want right now. But who couldn't get behind:

-no more moving violations, handle through tort , endangerment, and insurance. I think there are a ton of libertarian and conservatives who have gotten a ticket for going 6 miles over on the highway or a tag light ticket who dislike the police as much as BLM.

-remove proceeds from arrests, court fees, tickets, and takings from government to align incentives better

-privatize and allocate patrols/beat cops and use a voucher system to pay private contractors who get voted in or out once a year (better alignment of incentives with public perception).

-I don't know what you do about self selection of violent, racist, buzzcut a holes into police forces but I bet there is a solution!

While I agree with your gist, it's a little unfair to expect protestors in the streets facing down militarized police to be carrying position papers.

When the media bothers to interview the coherent ones (as opposed to finding the biggest freak to exploit) I think they articulate well enough the themes.

There are of course plenty of articulate critiques and recommendations available. In the case of police misconduct and institutional problems, there's decades' worth.

I guess to finish the thought, to fix outcomes and perceptions you need:

1) leaders who can appeal to left, right, and Relevant special interests like the police

2) good ideas/strategies that would materially improve outcomes and perceptions

3) a supply of protestors to keep this a political priority

I think two and three are out there but maybe just not connected. I personally don’t see any of # 1s.

Thus the chaos we have now.

They (BLM movement) already released their policy demands:

- Elimination of criminal history in job applications, housing, and welfare eligibility
- Cash reparations for all black people of color
- Free admissions for all black people of color to all public schools
- Defund and disband all police and prisons, use money for education and jobs programs instead
- Guaranteed government jobs for all black people of color
- Elimination of state control over local schools when schools are failing
- Free internet for all black people of color
- Automatic voting registration at 16

I think the police force would welcome the applications of liberal, non-violent, well educated people and be quite happy to assign them to serve in exactly those communities of most concern. It’s a chance for those top 20 college grads to get involved.

Obama's perfect record of zero-reform questions anything that Dems may promise. I bet they prefer to give qualified immunity to rioters and looters rather than revoking the police's one.

I understand that the Supreme Court can revoke its 1982-rule that granted qualified liability to ALL government officials (see entry in Wikipedia and references there). I hope this week the Court announces whether it will hear cases related to qualified immunity.

Once the monopoly on force is granted, it's not very many steps for a police union to start behaving like an organized crime syndicate. Anything that smells like that must be checked immediately.

I read that excerpt from Louisiana law differently: it seems a lot more restrictive. To expunge a complaint, it seems to require that it be:

anonymous, AND

unsubstantiated, AND

involving domestic violence, AND

alleging an offense against one of the statutes listed in Paragraph 2.

The point of listing the statutes seems to be that they are all relatively minor: nobody's going to get murder complaints expunged this way. The 'obvious domestic dispute' clause only applies to the crime of disturbing the peace, or perhaps also to the other two crimes named in that sentence. In either case, though, it narrows the range of offenses which can be expunged; it doesn't stand alone.

Now, it's admittedly a hard-to-parse law, and the Louisiana system may be interpreting it differently. Indeed, its primary interpretation is in the hands of police, some of whom are probably interpreting it differently. (After all, if a celebrated economist can't parse it right, who is to blame a local cop for not parsing it right?) But the interpretation I've given seems to be the intention of the drafters of the law, and makes its existence rather less "hard to believe".

Earlier, someone posited that demonstrations would lead to "law and order" candidates, and I posited it that it would lead instead to police reform and examination.

Today, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights filed a complaint agains the Minneapolis Police Department: https://www.startribune.com/minnesota-files-civil-rights-charge-against-minneapolis-police-dept/570958652/

One should not assume that those with the handles on the levers of government will be so easily pushed over by police unions and politicians arguing for law and order.

Discovery in litigation is always a very interesting exercise. The adversary system also often reveals the truth. It won't be easy if someone claims "give more power to the police" when they are under investigation and stuff comes out that exposes discriminatory behavior and results in a consent decree overriding a police contract.

Kudos to Minnesota for capturing the first mover advantage.

The Virginia General Assembly, under its new Democratic majority, just legalized police union collective bargaining, along with all other state public employees, the previous session. It will take place next year, after the (also Democratic) governor objected and wanted a delay.

All Republicans voted against, all Democrats were in favor. The Democrats could have legalized collective bargaining for all public employees except police if they wanted, and adding police got zero Republican votes.

That suggests little room for any sort of bipartisan bargain, at least right now. The Democratic Party in Virginia, as in other states, considers police unions as worthy of support as other unions, and the Republicans are no more favorable. Even when they had no need to include police union privileges, the Democratic Party did so anyway.

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