From Mother Jones: Why Won’t Democratic Mayors Crack Down on the Cops?


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26 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon says:

    Makes sense, especially given voting patterns of the public. Incumbents enjoy a degree of security.Report

  2. Chip Daniels says:

    At the risk of losing my lefty cred, I suggest the answer isn’t “the rich” so much as it is “the bourgeoisie”.

    Because “tough on crime” has long been a reliable vote-getter, and few mayors have lost elections to pro-reform candidates.
    Notice how often people remind us of the high level of support there is in the black community for policing, just more effective?

    “Tough on crime” is (or at least historically has been) popular with all segments of society: the working class, the affluent professionals, the shopkeepers and one truck contractors, all of whom wield collectively a tremendous power in selecting the city government.

    At this moment, Mayor Ted Wheeler is trailing the pro-reform candidate so maybe things are changing, I don’t know.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Maybe partially? One thing that Lori Lightfoot said at the start of this whole debate is this:

      1. Most of the police budget goes to salary, benefits, and pensions;
      2. Chicago has made concerted efforts to have more people of color in the police ranks in recent years/
      3. This provides them with access to the middle-class because of the salary
      4. Budget cuts/defunding the police is going to lead to the termination of minority officers with a lack of clout/seniority first.

      I have no problem using government work to make sure there is a viable middle class. I do not think you have an issue with this either. But we seem to hit a brick wall where this can mainly be done through police work especially for people who only have a high school diploma. Very few seem to want or imagine the Department of Social Workers roving around and responding to disturbances and disputes.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Honestly defunding always seems weird to me, like a backwards way of curbing the cop’s corruption and brutality.
        Like, I don’t see a mechanism where Police Budget shrinks by x%, so the cops start behaving differently.
        IMO, some of the stuff we’ve talked about here, like stripping the police unions of their ability to defend cops, and establishing a Civilian Review Board, where discipline is stripped from the department entirely and put into the hands of civilians would be a lot more direct and to the point.Report

        • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          “I don’t see a mechanism where Police Budget shrinks by x%, so the cops start behaving differently.”

          Exactly, and this, along with what you wrote above, really answers the question.

          No sane person wants less law and order. A lot of us want better law and order. The Bourgeoisie and corporations don’t give a damn about the polIce unions, and many see them as a source of illegitimate rent seeking to fund people Saul pretends to like. But they want law and order.

          The real question is how long before those demanding law and order leave the city after being fed up with these mayors allowing childish rioting. But note that doesn’t hurt the mayor, it helps them as their electorate moves even further leftward.

          The dynamic plays out that if this continues, these cities become “Detroits” as sane people, small and large businesses, taxpayers and families move out. I guess that is one roundabout way to defund the police — eliminate your tax base.

          Btw, do people who read this MJ tripe actually believe that lying through statistics chart on protection spending vs welfare? This is the type of polarizing Propaganda that is tearing our country apart.

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

            Mayor…”allowing riots”.
            You have this notion that somehow riots are a voluntary choice, where mayors can just shut them down at will.

            You have seen all the color revolutions around the world, yes? How did “Crush The Protests” work there? Why would it work here?Report

            • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Shutting down the riots would be easy. I am sure a few true hard core types would try to keep the terror going until they got arrested and sent away for domestic terrorism.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                This is where Second Amendment supporters enter the argument and point out how governments often do back down from large groups of civilians who threaten violence.

                The end of reconstruction, the 90s militia movement, the Bundy gang, the armed protesters at the Michigan statehouse- these are just the examples I can think of off the top of my head.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                This is true. Police rarely want to go toe to toe with rifle toting protestors. They know their armor won’t stop a rifle round bigger than a .22LR.

                That doesn’t stop the police from making arrests, only that they don’t want to get into a shootout that they have even a slim chance of losing. They can exhibit just an amazing amount of patience with regards to search and arrest warrants when they are pretty sure the target is willing to stack bodies.Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                It seems like you are still toggling back and forth between the term protestors which assumes peaceful, and rioters, which assumes violence.

                My take on the issue is that the mayors are complicit in the riots in those cities where they are not being suppressed. I don’t think the police would have any issues at all with putting these little dirtbags down. I am appalled by Trump that he doesn’t send in the National Guard. If I was a citizen in one of these cities, I would be demanding federal rescue and in its absence either arming up or moving out.

                America has in less than a half century devolved from a place which valued equality of opportunity to a place where politicians and the media are inciting racial discord. We either go back to the way it was or see who wins the civil war (which means we all lose). Honestly I am pretty sure you and most other leftists want the war.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                The National Guard was in fact posted to LA, and they had a unit in front of my building.
                All the neighbors leaned out their windows and screamed at them to leave.

                Yes, I am toggling back and forth between protests and riots, because thats how people challenge their government.

                As a poster over on Redstate put it (during the Obama years):
                Ballot box
                Ammo box”

                We are trying like hell to use the ballot box, but Republicans seem determined to thwart that.

                So what comes after?Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What comes after?

                I guess some group gets gathered up and shot in the back of the head and buried with bulldozers. Happy now?

                The rule of law needs to be enforced immediately nationwide, or this experiment in democracy is going to explode and none of us or our standards of living are secure.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                Very true.

                We need to arrest people who flout the rule of law or this experiment in democracy will explode.Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                And as far as I can tell, none of the last four riots were about violations of any laws. Floyd’s death was at worst an abuse of a legally approved technique (Since changed). Blake was shot legally while resisting arrest. Prude died while in custody due to drugs. And Taylor was caught in the crossfire of police being shot at after legally entering the house with a warrant.

                So where is this flouting of the rule of law?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                Oh sorry, I thought we were talking about the need to crack down on lawless rioting in Hong Kong.Report

        • Slade the Leveller in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Citizen, not civilian. Police are not military (despite sometimes looking like it).Report

  3. greginak says:

    One part of the answer has always been that it is hard to move up in a city politically w/o at least some support from cops. Cops have a decent, at least, degree of political power and influence so pols who are to strong against them have a strong head wind to moving up to mayor. Just to poke the shallow hornets nest, getting rid of/neutering cop unions , which is necessary for true reform, won’t diminish the political power of cops.

    Contra killer three word hashtags most city residents want and need police with the obvious proviso they don’t want cops to be terrible. Institutional change is really hard and takes a lot of pressure and time. In some cities, baltimore, chicago,etc, they likely need the strong hand of a federal judge wielding power over the course of years to enact meaningful change. Class issues, which chip raised above, really doesn’t touch how hard it is to change institutions. It will take years of retraining, strong community oversight with teeth, adding all the various support services to replace some of cop duties and new leadership in the cops from nco on up. All that doesn’t come quick, or at all , of course. The american desire for fast results doesn’t quite cut it.Report

    • Philip H in reply to greginak says:

      The american desire for fast results doesn’t quite cut it.


      How many years did Dr. King have to march and sit in and get arrested to get the Civil Rights Act? We forget that part of our history.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Philip H says:

        Heck, it took something like 60 days to break the Democrat filibuster of the Civil Rights Act.
        It was the longest filibuster in US history, and the first time in history Republicans had managed to break a Democrat filibuster of a Civil Rights bill. The last to speak was Robert Byrd, Joe Biden’s mentor, who’d kept at it for 14 hours and 13 minutes. Biden went on to lead the opposition to school busing, and later authored the notorious crime bill which put millions of black men in prison for extended stays. Progress is indeed difficult to achieve because the old fossils just won’t go away.Report

  4. Chip Daniels says:

    What police reform looks like, on the ground in a “liberal” city:

    “Much has changed in the seven months since George Gascón faced off against incumbent DA Jackie Lacey in one of the most important elections in the country.

    As the political climate shifted over the summer, so have many of Lacey’s political backers. U.S. Representative Adam Schiff withdrew his endorsement over the summer, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti switched his endorsement from Lacey to Gascón. Gascón has gone from an insurgent candidate to the mainstream Democratic pick, with endorsements from Governor Gavin Newsom and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.

    Los Angeles County, with the nation’s largest jail system and largest local prosecutor office, is considered a crown jewel in a nationwide push to elect progressive prosecutors.

    “My success will have a huge impact and my failure will have a huge impact as well,” Gascón told The Appeal: Political Report. “If I win and we can show that it actually works. It will really begin to devalue the scare tactics that are being practiced now by Trump, and by my opponent, and by police unions throughout the country.”

    Law enforcement groups have contributed at least $5,000,000 to defeat Gascón, whose campaign has received backing from wealthy progressive donors, including philanthropist Patty Quillin.

    Lacey’s supporters have been more direct in adopting Trump-like anti-reform rhetoric when framing the summer of protests and the stakes of the DA race.

    “Who’s asking for what changes? Is it Black Lives Matter, is it Antifa?” said Cooley, who promoted Lacey during his DA tenure from 2000 to 2012. “They are anarchists, they are looters, they are arsonists, and they are rioters.”

    Measure J, an initiative on the November ballot in Los Angeles County, captures the candidates’ different approaches to diverting people from the criminal legal system. The measure, crafted in the wake of the summer protests, would allocate 10 percent of LA County’s unrestricted general funds—around $300 million—toward alternatives to incarceration and community investment. It would bar that money from being funnelled toward law enforcement.

    Gascón has endorsed Measure J; Lacey has called it a rash response to an issue that requires more study and “courageous budgeting.”

    November will be an interesting test.Report

  5. DavidTC says:

    It’s almost as if the problem isn’t police unions at all, but rather a political system that is entirely built on top of money and wants the police to operate as they do.

    And people need to understand…this isn’t ‘corruption’. This isn’t the rich sliding money into the _mayor’s_ pockets.

    This is the fact the rich can simply threaten to withdraw their money from the city.

    Because the city cannot be funded otherwise, because _no one else has any money_.

    And the rich push a political party that makes sure that no one pays taxes…which isn’t just to give them _less_ taxes, but also to make sure other people aren’t taxed _any_…making the cities and states entirely dependent on the rich’s largess.

    This is where wealth inequality leads to. People thinking that the problem is ‘buying’ politicians with bribes^Wcampaign money is is the simplistic child’s view of how the world work.Report

  6. Oscar Gordon says:

    So this is interesting:

    Stop criticizing police and crack down on crime, the argument goes, and the problem will be solved.

    It’s a neat explanation, but here’s the catch: We don’t actually know why crime went up this year. To be fair, we don’t truly know why crime goes up … well, ever. Nor do we know how to make it go down in the long term. Despite — or perhaps because of — half a century of modern criminology data keeping and analysis, all researchers have to go on are correlations — and none of them clearly explain all the times crime has gone up.

    But politicians continue to claim they know how to bring down crime, even though no single political policy can reduce crime or stop it from rising in the first place. When political figures push solutions to crime, they’re effectively trying to build a platform on the deck of a ghost ship — and their proposals and prevarications are often about something other than crime itself.


    • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Has the whole “REFORM THE POLICE!” thing just sort of evaporated?

      We’re back to “crime happens, it goes up, it comes down… what can you do?”

      I suppose running on Reform the Cops and not Law and Order is one of those things that can backfire after a summer like the last one.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

        My take away was that we shouldn’t hesitate to begin reforming the police for fear of crime rising, since the police are but one of many, many factors that impact the rise and fall of crime.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      “We don’t actually know why crime went up this year.”

      True, true, no idea whatsoever; I mean, the protests were mostly peaceful!Report