commenter-thread

Quite right!

I'll stop talking about legal stuff now. :)

(Though I'm curious how I got the mistaken impression the two things were tied together...)

Earlier I was going to write something about how powerful the visual of Buffalo PD pushing a 75 year old man to the ground and then walking by as blood from his head spills onto the pavement was, both in terms of capturing a mood but also in terms of shaping public sentiment on the issue of cop violence. But I didn't!

So instead I'll post this:

I’m told the entire @BPDAlerts Emergency Response Team has resigned from the team, a total of 57 officers, as a show of support for the officers who are suspended without pay after shoving Martin Gugino, 75. They are still employed, but no longer on ERT

Yep. What began as a protest against a cop killing an unarmed black man turned into a protest for charges to be filed which turned into a protest against prosecutors systematically *not* charging cops who kill black men which turned into a protest over police brutality as a systemic problem in America which the cops confirmed by engaging in police brutality against people peacefully protesting police brutality.

but I think upping the charge to 2nd degree murder could be a major strategic error.

Yup. NAL, but Ellison was pretty clear that he upgraded the charge against Chauvin for the single purpose of being able to charge the other 3 officers. I believe he's pretty explicitly stated that. He's also primed the public for an acquittal by saying it's very hard to convict cops. Seems to me he's letting his politics get ahead of pragmatics but (quite literally!) what do I know? Just a vibe I'm getting.

Add: saying that I'm 100% on board with his politics.

Ideally, DAs would work closely with police departments in the collection of evidence sufficient to warrant charges against citizens in the general population etc and so on *BUT*, due to conflict of interest, would be prevented from prosecuting (or not) cases involving cops. So, yeah, you're right there's a big problem here, and you're right that there's no *easy* fix for it.

It's the age old problem.

The ‘the union’ doesn’t have actual power. Police unions cannot do anything.

???

This is crazy. It's like you're playing a semantic game where the term "the union" refers to an abstract property so therefore has no causal efficacy in the world. Bizarre.

The union is just the current manner in which this happens, and gives the local government someone else to blame.

David, this makes no sense whatsoever. The police union *negotiates* with government. Not the individual officers.

But assuming you're right about this, then shouldn't you be in favor of disbanding cop unions since from your pov they're epiphenomenal danglers that perform absolutely no useful function?

The problem isn’t police unions. The problem is the power that the government has _freely given_ police unions. They haven’t taken it, they haven’t walked picket lines for it, and it’s an absurd concession to them.

This seems like an academic point to me since you're providing a (incorrect, in my view) historical account of how police unions gained so much power. But regardless of the how unions gained that power, you appear to agree that unions currently *do* have power which goes beyond mere collective bargaining over employee compensation.

So what do we do now? Will the unions surrender that power easily? Will they "hand it back" once politicians make the request? Will politicians invoke what you view as an easy tool to remedy the problem: fire the cops and disband the union because they're "easy to completely replace"?

So, just as a point of reference, you think DeBlasio could fire the entire NYPD and "easily" replace those officers? Am I reading you right? Cuz this sounds like pure fantasy.

More to the point, it seems incoherent to say that police unions aren't the problem when you concede that the power police unions currently possess is (part of) the problem.

I’ll echo what a couple people have said above is that changing QI should happen and won’t be a silver bullet. There is no One Simple Trick to changing cops.

greg, I love ya man, but you keep repeating a view that no one holds: that there is one simple trick to fixing this problem. Everyone who wants to see reform understands that there are multiple problems at many different levels, not least of which is retail politics.

I agree. I was struck by something in CJ's comment above: that there are other mechanisms by which cops can evade accountability *other than* QI. If so, then people who defend cops-rights (not saying CJ is doing so) should have no problem with limiting its scope or getting rid of it altogether.

Of course, any suggestion of rolling back those provisions would result in a police union riot.

Ahh. I misunderstood your comment. I thought you were suggesting new federal laws that apply at the state and local level rather than new state and local laws. Sorry bout that.

{Seems to me the problem is that immunity is no longer qualified. It's pretty close to total}

but what would be way better would be new laws governing use of force and liability at the state and local level as well as regulatory rules PDs have to follow.

In what sense would new, additional laws be an improvement over repealing bad, existing ones? This strikes me as overly complicated since it embeds what constitutes "reasonable" in a convoluted matrix of existing laws and precedents. Further, I'm not sure I see how shifting liability to states and cities is different than current practice where (eg) the city of Chicago pays out scores of millions to settle civil suits while the bad actors who committed those crimes are protected by the union and DAs.