Sunday, February 17, 2013

common sense collides with the compulsion to conceal and cover-up...,

WaPo | Police serve the community — any concerns about their integrity must be transparently, expeditiously and judiciously resolved. Relying on cops to police cops is neither efficient nor confidence-inspiring.
The solution? Abolish internal affairs units and outsource their work to external civilian agencies.

Police have slowly started to incorporate civilian oversight in their misconduct investigations. For example, the LAPD’s office of inspector general has oversight over the department’s internal discipline. Yet, while the inspector general’s staff receives copies of every personnel complaint filed and tracks and audits selected cases, it does not have the authority to impose discipline. Nor do most civilian review boards, which are not empowered to conduct independent investigations. This leads detractors to say that such boards are ineffectual.

Police have long resisted external oversight. Some of us say that those who aren’t in uniform do not understand the intricacies of law enforcement. Won’t civilian investigators be harsher toward officers — unsympathetic to the challenges faced by beat cops battling armed bad guys?

These self-serving arguments perpetuate archaic policies. Outsourcing misconduct investigations to civilians would directly address community concerns about the “blue wall of silence.” Officers who fear retaliation for reporting misconduct would feel more comfortable working with an external agency. In this system, complaints such as Dorner’s about the vindictiveness of superiors would all but disappear.

Using sergeants and detectives as internal affairs investigators costs police departments a lot. These supervisors are paid more and have more seniority. Assigning seasoned officers to internal affairs also depletes the number of field personnel who could prevent mistakes and misconduct by patrol officers in the first place. Outsourcing misconduct investigations would be far less expensive and would let veteran supervisors do the jobs they should be doing.

And why shouldn’t every police contact with the community — every traffic stop, every interrogation — be recorded on video? If Dorner and his partner had had a cop-cam, his claim that his partner used excessive force might have been resolved the same day. There’s just no excuse for not recording police contacts with the public. Technology has made cameras effective and affordable. Some officers already record their arrests to protect themselves against false allegations of misconduct. This should be standard operating procedure.
If even one citizen thinks that Dorner may have had a point, that’s too many. The only answer to those worried about police conspiracies is transparency. Only by opening our doors can we build trust, and truly serve and protect. Fist tap Arnach.

1 comments:

arnach said...

At the risk of repeating myself, it is my opinion that sousveillance in a full open government scenario it what is going to be required. Unfortunately, I must agree with CNu's tag that it will never happen, when those who have the ability (responsibility?) to pass such a law are the ones most likely to be personally disadvantaged by it, in spite of any potential benefit to society and country. OTOH, it could be a worthwhile experiment in some state that allows citizen initiative...

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