Update: I went to the “Bias-Free Policing Town Hall” that was put on by the Community Policing Commission (CPC) last night. One bit of information makes this all make so much more sense: The draft policy was written by police brass.
I’m going to go out on a very short limb and say the police department is deliberately sabotaging the bias-free policing effort. They were given a hundred pages of highly detailed, well researched, convincingly thought out recommendation from CPC, yanked about the most innocuous two pages from it, and called it a draft policy. This is complete bullshit.
The City of Cleveland recently started circulating its proposed policy on “Bias-Free Policing.” This is far from a done deal. As the City says, “It has not yet been approved by the Court, the Monitoring Team, or the Department of Justice and has not yet been finalized by the Division of Police or the City. Instead, it is a complete draft of the policy about which the Division of Police needs feedback.”
Here’s my feedback so far. The main thing is that the policy doesn’t even acknowledge systemic racism. It frames the entire problem of biased policing on the individual officers in the streets, even though the very reason we’re having this conversation at all is that the police have a “pattern and practice” of excessive use of force. It’s rather disingenuous to look at a “pattern and practice” and pretend that management is not involved.
- Are we sure it’s a good idea to require cops to report biased policing to their own supervisor or to Internal Affairs? That sounds like it could be a deterrent.
- There’s not much of an “or else” to this. Section III just says you’re “subject to discipline” for not following the policy, and I imagine there’s also a new discipline policy, but from the looks of it a cop doesn’t have much to lose.
- In I.A.5., I hope there’s a more thorough definition of “procedural justice” in other documents. That’s not a lot to go on.
- The policy defines “implicit bias” but there’s nothing in the policy that actually mitigates it.
- This policy puts all the burden of bias on the cop on the street. You know what would not violate this policy as written? A lieutenant in the Third District ordering officers to stop and frisk every person they see at 79th and Kinsman. Hey, it’s not anyone’s fault that’s 99.8% black people.
- I’m not seeing anything about cops hassling youth of color. Are we supposed to assume that a minor is going to be equipped to invoke the bias-free policing policy on the spot?
- For that matter, how the heck is any civilian supposed to know this policy exists? Given the background, and knowing the reasons why this process is even occurring, maybe the bias-free policy should be posted in every school, library, church, community center, and (of course) police station.
- Further, when a cop is acting on implicit (or even explicit) bias, how is the civilian supposed to know that? I know I’m being pulled over, and I know that the cop is lying about my not stopping at the stop sign, but how do I know it’s because I look Irish?
- Long story short, why are we depending on civilians to enforce this policy?
- If I’m a third party observing biased policing, what’s my recourse?
- Does this apply to officers’ off-duty activities? Moonlighting and free time?
- I’m seeing absolutely nothing about deliberately over-policing certain (black) areas to generate arrests.
- I’m seeing absolutely nothing about citation or arrest quotas.
- I’m seeing absolutely nothing about running statistical studies. Some bias isn’t clear until you have the numbers.
Finally, the proposed policy doesn’t address the known presence of white supremacists. If you want bias-free policing, maybe you should at least run the police roster against the national database of Known And Suspected Terrorists as well as the FBI’s files on known white supremacist groups. This is not already being done.