What police reforms could prevent the next Tire Nichols from being killed?

On Friday, the city of Memphis, Tennessee, released video of five police officers killing Tire Nichols. The video is as expectedly horrific and heartbreaking. (You know it’s outrageous when even the National Fraternal Order of Police he could not muster the defense.) The video shows officers beating Nichols senseless, who is allegedly stopped at a traffic stop, as the 29-year-old is completely helpless and complies with their demands (at least, when those demands aren’t completely impossible or contradictory).

Now comes the part of the cycle where everyone is calling for reforms.

It’s hard to look at a situation like this and think that anything could make a difference. Many popular reform ideas—hiring more black police officers, forcing police to wear body cameras, giving them better training to carry weapons, banning the use of chokeholds—are unworkable. (The cops were black, wore body cameras, and killed Nichols without using a choke hold or firing a shot.) Maybe the police just attract psychopaths. Maybe the police culture is so bad that it turns ordinary people into monsters. None of these options seem like problems that could be solved with mild reforms.

But there are a few specific changes that could make a difference.

Take on secret “elite” police units like the SCORPION Squad. The officers who killed Nichols were part of Memphis’ “Street Crime Operation to Restore Peace to Our Neighborhoods” (SCORPION), which was tasked with searching crime “hot spots” and making pretextual traffic stops to try to stop or investigate serious crimes. “The SCORPION program has all the hallmarks of similar ‘elite’ police teams across the country, brought together for the broad purpose of fighting crime, operating with far more space and less oversight than regular police officers,” writes Radley Balko:

Some of these units have boasted impressive numbers on arrests and gun seizures, although those statistics don’t always correlate with crime reductions. But they all rest on the idea that police officers need less supervision to be effective. This is a fundamental misconception. In city after city, these units have proven that putting police officers in street clothes and unmarked cars‌, then giving them less oversight, an open-ended mandate and a scary name erodes the community trust that police forces need to protect people.

Units like these suffer not only from a lack of transparency and use tactics that could provoke violence. Their rhetoric attracts “cops who enjoy being feared,” notes Balko, and positions these cops as both elite and outside the normal rules. There are all kinds of horror stories about similar units, such as Detroit’s STRESS unit (“Over a two-year period, the units killed at least 22 people, almost all black”) or Los Angeles’ CRASH unit (“More than 70 officers were involved in a gun-planting and evidence of drugs, selling narcotics and shooting and beating people without provocation).

Memphis now has disbanded the SCORPION squad. hopefully remains dissolved. Let’s hope other cities follow suit.

Reduce the role of the police. The DeCarcerate Memphis group is calling not only for the disbandment of units like the SCORPION squad, but for the removal of police officers from traffic control and the abolition of the use of unmarked police cars. “These non-reformist reforms reduce the role and power of the police, rather than simply changing the colors of people who do harm,” he writes Guard columnist Derecka Purnell.

Stop buying police propaganda. The initial release by Memphis police about Nichols’ death bears little resemblance to the horror and brutality the five officers actually experienced. This is how the department first described the situation: “there was a conflict”, and “afterwards the suspect complained that he was out of breath”.

This isn’t the first time police have drastically misrepresented the way things unfolded before surveillance footage or body camera videos showed they weren’t telling the truth. To distill this down to its essence: a police lie. They lie to protect themselves. They like to give their activities a nobler glow. They lie to dehumanize those they arrest or aggress against. However, media representatives often take the police officers at their word and move on.

Reporters routinely quote information from police press conferences or statements as the simple reality of the situation, without asking questions, without confirmation, and without citing outside voices. We see this not only in cases of police brutality, but also in the reporting of routine police actions and operations. (One area I see this a lot is with “trafficking rings.”)

People in general, and the media in particular, really need to stop taking police officers at their word. This does not mean that the police are never to speak the truth. But there is no reason to believe that they are more truer than the average self-motivated individual. If people would stop putting a premium on the police version of events, it might help, in some small way, to remove the conditions under which the police feel they can get away with whatever they want.

Abolish qualified immunity. Another big thing that empowers the police to do whatever they want without fear of consequence is the doctrine of qualified immunity. The police must know that they will face legal consequences if they do wrong.


Minnesota will enshrine reproductive freedom in state law. Minnesota’s Protecting Reproductive Options (PRO) Act has passed both chambers of the legislature and is on its way to the state’s Democratic governor for signature.

The measure stipulates that “reproductive freedom” is included in the Minnesota Constitution’s protections of individual liberty, personal privacy and equality, and states that “every person who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth, or obtain an abortion, and to make independent decisions about how to achieve this fundamental right.” It also prohibits local governments in Minnesota from “regulating[ing] the ability of an individual to freely exercise the fundamental rights set forth in this section in a manner more restrictive than that set forth in this section.”

“California, Vermont and Washington also guarantee the right to a wider range of reproductive health care options,” notes Minnesota Public Radio.


The War on “Assisted Dwelling Units” (ADUs). Small living spaces built behind or adjacent to existing homes can help keep aging loved ones close, among other benefits. “Additional living units—also known as in-law suites, granny flats, casitas, or guest cottages—come in many forms,” ​​he reports The New York Times.

They can be detached or attached to the main house on the property they share; these can be apartments in basements or over garages. An ADU, which is typically 600 to 1,000 square feet, has a bathroom, kitchen or kitchenette, and usually a separate entrance.

Its function can change over the decades. A rental that generates income for young homeowners could later become a haven for returning young adults and then a way for older owners to meet housing costs and stay in their neighborhood.

In an aging nation, ADUs make particular sense for people in their 60s and older who don’t want to move and will need caregivers nearby, either family members or hired help.

But zoning rules and other laws in many cities make such arrangements difficult to impossible. More here.


• Former President Donald Trump is still pushing lies about the 2020 election as he kicks off his 2024 campaign.

• “Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill on Saturday barring minors from receiving gender reassignment health care, the first such measure in the country this year in what is expected to be a wave of bills from state lawmakers to limit the rights of transgender people ,” reports The New York Times. “The law prohibits transgender youth in the state from receiving gender-affirming surgery and places an indefinite ban on hormone therapy, with limited exceptions.”

Ani Huang, president and CEO of the Center On Executive Compensation and senior vice president of the HR Policy Association, criticizes the Federal Trade Commission’s proposal to completely ban non-compete agreements, broadly defined.

• US weapons left behind in Afghanistan turn up in Kashmir.

• Another Tesla car caught fire spontaneously.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *