CD216: Dingleberries Against Police Brutality
Release Date: 06/14/2020
As the U.S. erupted in protests against police brutality, the House Democrats wrote the Justice in Policing Act. In this episode, we see how the bill would limit the transfer of military equipment to cops, create a public database for information about cops, ban no-knock raids on our homes, and limit the qualified immunity that allows cops to use violence with impunity. We also look at The Dingleberry Method, which is the best play for Democrats to use if they want any of this to become law.info_outline CD215: COVID-19 Testimony
When Congress (finally) returned from their COVIDcation, experts in medicine, vaccine development, law, and business testified under oath. In this episode, hear the highlights from 17 hours of that expert testimony during which you'll learn about a concerning new vaccine development policy, Mitch McConnell's dangerous demands for the next COVID-19 response law, and how Republicans and Democrats failed for the last two decades to secure the nation's medical mask supply.info_outline Thank You Stupid Bay of Pigs
In this bonus "thank you" episode, Jen provides some updates on recent bills including the HEROES Act and the reauthorization of the USA Freedom Act followed by a promised summary of the attempted coup in Venezuela. Also in this episode is a perfect example of corporate influence in mainstream media followed by thank yous for all the producers who keep corporate influence out of Congressional Dish.info_outline CD214: Facial Recognition
Over the last year, various Congressional committees have been investigating the expanding use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement and the private sector. In this episode, hear the highlights of these investigations which will enlighten you about the extent that this technology is being used to put your face in criminal investigation line-ups, determine your employability, and more.info_outline Thank You STOCK Act
In this thank you bonus episode, some CARES Act updates, including a debunking of a rumor that the CARES Act was written before the crisis, a list of the greedy Senators who used their behind-closed-doors Congressional COVID-19 briefing’s to hit the jackpot on the stock market, and the reason why Boeing hasn’t yet claimed their $17 billion CARES Act gift. Jen then thanks all the producers who make this podcast possibleinfo_outline CD213: CARES Act - The Trillions for COVID-19 Law
The U.S. Treasury has been legally robbed! In this episode, discover the secret provisions in the multi-trillion dollar CARES Act that no one is talking about (like the new process for over the counter drug approvals) and discover the reasons behind problems that everyone is talking about (like why Mom & Pops can't get a small business loan approved but Fogo de Chao can.) The good news is that the problems are so obvious that they are easily fixed... If Congress ever comes back from vacation.info_outline Thank You Doctors
In this thank you bonus episode, members of our community - including a doctor on the frontlines of COVID-19 who has been forced to take a pay cut during a pandemic - update us on how their COVIDpocalyspe is going as Jen thanks all the producers who make Congressional Dish possible.info_outline CD212: The COVID-19 Response Laws
Since COVID-19 began ravaging the human race, Congress has passed three bills into law that are meant to respond to both the health care crisis and the financial crisis. In this episode, Jen highlights the first two laws in their entirety and the provisions from the third law that are most likely to help the most Americans. She also documents the process used to pass all three bills into law, because this is NOT the way Congress is supposed to function. We have some firing to do.info_outline Thank You Neighbors
In the longest bonus thank you episode ever recorded, Jen and Husband Joe have a few drinks, discuss the infuriating state of our government, and respond to notes from the producers of episodes 210 and 211. Warning: Jen may not mean everything she says in this episode; it's possible Donald Trump cares about Tiffany.info_outline CD211: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Coronavirus. A lot of people are scared - and money is being made off of our fear. In this episode, let's take a calm look at the facts presented under oath by health professionals in Congress and in official press conferences. What is happening? How does this virus work? How is it transmitted? Why are we all being told to stay home? By the end of this episode, you will have those answers and (hopefully) be better prepared to handle the bad news that’s soon to come.info_outline
In response to the horrific murder of George Floyd and the worldwide protests against police brutality that followed, the House Democrats wrote the Justice in Policing Act. The provisions in this bill are our best chance for real change in the 116th Congress. In this episode, we see how the bill would limit military equipment being transferred to cops, create a nationwide public database for information about cops and police departments, and limit the qualified immunity that allows cops to use violence with impunity. We also look at The Dingleberry Method, which is the best play for Democrats to use if they want any of this to become law.
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CD192: Democracy Upgrade Stalled
CD200: How to End Legal Bribes
Subtitle A - Holding Police Accountable in the Courts
- Makes it a crime for someone enforcing a law to “knowingly or with reckless disregard” deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitutions, instead of “willingly” deprive a person their rights.
- Local law enforcement officers and prison guards will not be given immunity if they say they were acting in “good faith” or that they believed their conduct was lawful.
- Gives the Attorney General optional subpoena authority and authorizes (but does not appropriate) $300,000 for grants to help states conduct investigations for the next three years
- The attorney general to give grants to states to help them conduct independent investigations of law enforcement. Authorizes (but does not appropriate) $2.25 billion
Subtitle B - Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act
- Orders the Attorney General to do a review and recommend additional standards that are supposed to result in greater accountability of law-enforcement agencies.
- Gives the Attorney General the option to provide grants to Community organizations to study law-enforcement standards.
- Orders the attorney general to do a study on the ability of law-enforcement officers to dodge investigative questions.
- Authorizes (but does not appropriate) about $28 million.
- Creates a task force staffed by the Attorney General to process complaints of law enforcement misconduct. Authorizes (but does not appropriate) $5 million per year
- Each federal, state, and local law enforcement agency would have to report a breakdown of the numbers of traffic stops, pedestrian stops, , And uses of deadly force by race, ethnicity, age, and gender of the officers and the the members of the public to the Attorney General. States that do not submit the reports would not be given money from the Department of Justice.
Subtitle A - National Police Misconduct Registry
- Six months after enactment, the Atty. Gen. would have to create a database containing each complaint filed against the law enforcement officer, termination records, certifications, in records of lawsuits and settlements made against the officer.
- The registry would be available to the public
- Withholds money from a state or jurisdiction if all officers have not completed certification requirements.
Subtitle B - PRIDE Act
- Requires states to report to the Attorney General, on a quarterly basis, information about law enforcement officers who shoot civilians, civilians who shoot law-enforcement officers, any incident involving the death or arrest of a law-enforcement officer, deaths in custody, and arrests and bookings.
- The reports must contain information about the national origin, sex, race, ethnicity, age, disability, English language proficiency, and housing status of each civilian against whom a local law enforcement officer used force.
- Reports must also include the location of the incident, whether the civilian was armed and with what kind of weapon, the type of force used, the reason force was used, a description of any injuries sustained as a result of the incident, the number of officers involved, the number of civilians involved, a description of the circumstances, efforts by local law-enforcement to de-escalate the situation, or the reason why efforts to de-escalate were not attempted.
- The Attorney General would have to make this information public once per year in a report.
Subtitle A - End Racial and Religious Profiling Act
- “No law-enforcement agent or law enforcement agency shall engage in racial profiling."
- Racial profiling is defined as relying, to any degree, on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation in selecting which individual to subject to routine or spontaneous investigatory activities.
- Allows victims of racial profiling to sue in civil courts, either in the state for in a district court of the United States.
Subtitle B - Additional Reforms
- The attorney general has to establish a training program to cover racial profiling, implicit bias, and procedural justice. The training program must exhibit a clear duty for federal law-enforcement officers to intervene in cases where another law-enforcement officer is using excessive force against a civilian.
- Search warrants authorized for drug cases would have to require that the law-enforcement officer provide notice of his or her authority and purpose.
- States will not receive funding from the Department of Justice unless the state has enacted a law prohibiting officers in the State or jurisdiction from using a chokehold or carotid hold.
- Chokeholds would be classified as civil rights violations
- “Less lethal” force can be used if it’s “necessary and proportional” in order to arrest a person “who the officer has probably cause to believe has committed a criminal offense” and if “reasonable alternatives to the use of the form of less lethal force have been exhausted”
- Deadly force can only be used “as a last resort” to “prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or another person”, and if the use of deadly force creates no “substantial risk of injury to a third person”, and if “reasonable alternatives tot he use of the form of deadly fore have been exhausted”
- Officers have to give people a verbal warning that they are a law enforcement officer and that they “will use force against the person if the person resists arrest or flees”
- Prohibits the 1033 Program from transferring military equipment to domestic law enforcement for “counter drug” and “border security activities” but they can continue to get equipment for “counterterrorism”
- Would require the police departments to submit to the Defense Department a description of how they intend to use the military equipment, the department would have to publish a notice on their website and “at several prominent locations in the jurisdiction" that they are requesting the military equipment, and have the notices available for 30 days, and that the department has approval to receive the equipment by the city council.
- Reports on where the equipment goes must be submitted to Congress
- Prohibits the transfer of controlled firearms, ammunition, bayonets, grenade launchers, grenades (including flash bangs), explosives, controlled vehicles, MRAPs, trucks, drones, combat aircraft, silencers, and long range acoustic devices.
- The department would be required to return the equipment if they are investigated by the Justice Department or found to have engaged in widespread civil rights abuses
- Police departments “may never take ownership” of controlled property
- Applies only to equipment transferred in the future.
Subtitle C - Law Enforcement Body Cameras
- Regarding the Use of Body Cameras Requires uniformed officers with the authority to conduce searches and make arrests to wear a body camera.
- The body camera - vide and audio - must be activated whenever a uniformed officer is responding to a call for service or during any other law enforcement encounter with a member of the public, except if an immediate threat to the officer’s life or safety makes turning the camera on impossible.
- Officers must notify members of the public that they are wearing a body camera
- When entering someone’s home or speaking to a victim, the officer must ask if the resident or victim wants the camera turned off and turn it off if requested, if they are not executing a search warrant.
- Body cameras can not be equipped with real time facial recognition technology
- Facial recognition technology can be used with the footage with a warrant
- Body cameras can’t be used to gather intelligence on protected speech, associations, or relations.
- Body cameras are not required when the officer is speaking to a confidential informant or when recording poses a risk to national security.
- Body cameras are not allowed to be turned on when an officer is on a school campus unless he/she is responding to an imminent threat of life or health
- Footage must be retained for 6 months and then permanently deleted
- Citizens and their lawyers and the families of deceased citizens have the right to inspect body camera footage related to their cases
- Body camera footage related to a use of force or a civilian complaint must be kept for at least 3 years Redactions can be used
- Body camera footage retained longer than 6 months is inadmissible in court
- If an officer interferes or turns off a recording, “appropriate disciplinary action shall be taken” and the interference can be used as evidence in court.
- In car video camera recording equipment must record whenever an officer is on patrol duty, conducting an enforcement stop, patrol lights are activated, if the officer thinks the recording could help with a prosecution, and when an arrestee is being transported.
- Recordings must be retained for 90 days.
- In car video cameras can not be equipped with facial recognition technology
TITLE IV - JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF LYNCHING ACT
- Co-conspirators to a lynching can be sentenced to 10 years in prison
- Article: READ: Democrats Release Legislation To Overhaul Policing By Barbara Sprunt, npr, June 8, 2020
- Article: Retraction—Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis By Mandeep R Mehra, Frank Ruschitzka, and Amit N Patel, The Lancelet, June 5, 2020
- Article: Verizon and AT&T Partner With Pro-Police Militarization Lobbying Group By Donald Shaw, Sludge, June 4, 2020
- Article: The no-knock warrant for Breonna Taylor was illegal By Radley Balko, The Washington Post, June 3, 2020
- Article: 10 Things Dems Could Do Right Now -- If They Actually Wanted To Stop Trump’s Power Grab By David Sirota, Substack, June 2, 2020
- Article: De-escalation Keeps Protesters And Police Safer. Departments Respond With Force Anyway. By Maggie Koerth and Jamiles Lartey, FiveThirtyEight, June 1, 2020
- Article: U.S. lawmaker prepares bill aiming to end court protection for police By David Morgan, Reuters, June 1, 2020
- Statement: The Posse Comitatus Act, U.S. Northern Command, September 23, 2019
- Article: Slavery and the Origins of the American Police State By Ben Fountain, Medium, September 17, 2018
- Document: An Evaluation of the Department of Defense's Excess Property Program: Law Enforcement Agency Equipment Acquisition Policies, Findings, and Options by Aaron C. Davenport, Jonathan William Welburn, Andrew Lauland, Annelise Pietenpol, Marc Robbins, Erin Rebhan, Patricia Boren, K. Jack Riley, Rand Corporation, 2018
- Article: Trump Reverses Obama Policy on Surplus Military Gear for Police By Pete Williams and Julia Ainsley, NBC News, August 28, 2017
- Article: New Ferguson Video Adds Wrinkle to Michael Brown Case By Mitch Smith, The New York Times, March 11, 2017
- Article: L.A. schools police will return grenade launchers but keep rifles, armored vehicle By Stephen Ceasar, Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2014
- Article: Michael Brown Robbed Convenience Store, Stole Cigarillos Before Darren Wilson Shooting, Dorian Johnson Says By Thomas Barrabi, International Business Times, November 25, 2014
- Article: The “1033 Program,” Department of Defense Support to Law Enforcement By Daniel H. Else, Congressional Research Service, Specialist in National Defense, August 28, 2014
- About: Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights
Sound Clip Sources
Hearing: Oversight Hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability, House Judiciary Committee, June 10, 2020
- Art Acevedo: President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association
- Paul Butler: Professor of Law at Georgetown Law School
- Vanita Gupta: President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
- Sherrilyn Ifill: President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.
- Marc Morial: President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League
- Ben Crump: President and Founder of Ben Crump Trial Lawyer for Justice (lawyer for the family of George Floyd)
34:15 Vanita Gupta: My tenure as head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division began two months after 18 year old Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson. The Justice Department was hardly perfect, but we understood our mandate: to promote accountability and constitutional policing in order to build community trust. During the Obama administration, we opened 25 pattern-or-practice investigations to help realize greater structural and community centered change, often at the request of police chiefs and mayor's who needed federal leadership. After making findings, we negotiated consent decrees with extensive engagement and input from community advocates, who not only identified unjust and unlawful policing practices, but also helped develop sustainable mechanisms for accountability and systemic change. That is not the Justice Department that we have today. Under both Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr, the department has abdicated its responsibility and abandoned the use of tools like pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees. Instead it is focused on dismantling police accountability efforts and halting any new investigations. The disruption of crucial work in the Civil Rights Division and throughout the Department of Justice to bring forth accountability and transparency in policing is deeply concerning. In the absence of federal leadership, the Leadership Conference Education Fund launched the new era of public safety initiative, a comprehensive guide and toolkit outlining proposals to build trust between communities and police departments, restore confidence and imagine a new paradigm of public safety. While much of these changes must happen at the state and local level, success is going to require the leadership support and commitment of the federal government including Congress. Last week, the leadership conference and more than 400 civil rights organizations sent a letter to Congress to move us forward on a path of true accountability. The recommendations included the following: One, create a national necessary standard on the use of force. Two, prohibit racial profiling, including robust data collection. Three, ban the use of chokeholds and other restraint maneuvers. Four, end the militarization of policing. Five, prohibit the use of no knock warrants, especially in drug cases. Six, strengthen federal accountability systems and increase the Justice Department's authority to prosecute officers that engage in misconduct. Seven create a national police misconduct registry. And eight, end qualified immunity. The Leadership Conference was pleased to learn that the Justice in Policing Act introduced Monday by both members of the House of Representatives and the Senate reflects much of this accountability framework. This is Congress's most comprehensive effort in decades to substantially address police misconduct by taking on issues critical issues affecting black and brown communities.
1:02:00 Sherrilyn Ifill: One of the key parts of the system of impunity has been qualified immunity defense that shields officials from the unforeseeable consequences of their act but has been interpreted by courts so ***extensively that it now provides near immunity for police officers who engage and unconstitutional acts of violence.
1:02:45 Sherrilyn Ifill: The Justice and policing act seeks to address qualified immunity by amending the civil rights statute used most in police excessive use of force cases. 42 USC section 1983 and we welcome this amendment. We want it to apply to all civil suits that are pending or filed after enactment of the Act. And we'll continue to work towards the elimination of qualified immunity.
1:24:10 Ben Crump: The only reason we know what happened to George Floyd is because it was captured on video. The advent of video evidence is bringing into the light what long was hidden. It's revealing what black Americans have known for a long, long time - that it is dangerous for a black person to have an encounter with a police officer. Given the incidents that have led to this moment in time, it should be mandatory for police officers to wear body cams and should be considered obstruction of justice to turn them off. Like a black box data recorded in an airplane body cams replace competing narratives with a single narrative, the truth with what we see with our own eyes.
3:00 Vanita Gupta: I will tell you there's actually significant law enforcement support for this kind of registry. And prosecutors around the country have asked for this kind of registry. But chiefs in particular have said that this is a real problem when they don't have this kind of information when they're making hiring decisions.
14:00 Sherrilyn Ifill: The principal problems that we have found in this long standing systemic issue of police violence against unarmed African Americans is the inability to hold officers who engage in misconduct accountable. Now, this is not just about the individual officer who some refer to as a bad apple. This is about a system of accountability that must exist if police officers are to understand that they cannot engage in certain kinds of conduct without impunity. And unfortunately, all of the legal tools that are available to us to hold officers accountable, have been weakened or lacked the sufficient strength and language to allow us to do so. So strengthening the language of the federal criminal statute that will not hold us to such a high standard and proving intent of the officers conduct is critical. And so adding a recklessness provision into that language that will allow us to get at some of this officer misconduct is vitally important.
45:00 Rep. Hank Johnson (GA): Mayor Morial, throughout recent times, we've seen repeated instances where black people often unarmed have been killed by a police officer. And if the death results in a use of force investigation, that investigation most often is conducted by the law enforcement agency that employs the officer who used the deadly force. Isn't that correct? Marc Morial: That's traditionally the way it works. Rep. Hank Johnson (GA): And Professor Butler we've also witnessed these use of force investigations being overseen by the local district attorney who works hand in hand, day after day, year after year, with the same officer and with the agency that employs the officer who used the deadly force in the case that's under investigation. Isn't that correct? And attorney Crump we've seen time and time again that the investigation becomes long and drawn out. And at some point, months or even years later, the local Prosecutor takes that case before a secret grand jury. And out of that grand jury usually comes what's called a no bill, which is a refusal to indict the officer who committed the homicide. Isn't that correct? Ben Crump: Yes, sir congressman Johnson. Rep. Hank Johnson (GA): And Professor Butler because grand jury proceeding's a secret, the public never learns exactly what the prosecutor presented to the grand jury. Isn't that correct? Paul Butler: Just like the grand jury proceeding in Staten Island with Eric Garner, who was placed in an illegal chokehold. We have no idea why that grand jury didn't indict that officer for murder. Rep. Hank Johnson (GA): It becomes just another justified killing of a black person by the police in America. Wouldn't it be fairer if the homicide investigation were undertaken by an Independent Police Agency, Attorney Gupta? Vanita Gupta: I think it would. It would also give the community members are much more faith in their legal system if there was an independent investigator in these kinds of cases.
1:41:30 Rep. Tom McClintock (CA): I think there are many proposals that have been raised in the house that merit support. And first is the doctrine of qualified immunity as it's currently applied. It has no place in a nation ruled by laws. For every right, there must be a remedy. And qualified immunity prevents a remedy for those whose rights have been violated by officials holding a public trust. And this reform should apply as much to a rogue cop who targets people because of their race, as it does to IRS or Justice Department officials and target people on the basis of their politics.
1:42:15 Rep.Tom McClintock (CA): Police records must be open to the public. It is a well established principle that public servants work for the public. And the public has a right to know what they're doing with the authority the public has loaned them. And police departments should be able to dismiss bad officers without interference from the unions.
1:42:45 Rep.Tom McClintock (CA): Turning police departments into paramilitary organizations is antithetical to the sixth principle laid down by Peel. Quote, "To use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective." Weapons that are unique to a battlefield need to be limited to a battlefield.
1:43:15 Rep.Tom McClintock (CA): No knock warrants have been proven to be lethal to citizens and to police officials for obvious reasons. The invasion of a person's home is one of the most terrifying powers the government possesses. Every person in a free society has the right to take arms against an intruder in their homes. And that means that the authority as a police must be announced before that intrusion takes place. To do otherwise places every one of us in mortal peril.
2:00:45 Vanita Gupta: I think right now there is a hunger in the streets and in communities around the country to recognize that people want other options in their communities other than to call 911 and have a police officer come at the door when people are in mental health crisis, for homelessness issues and school discipline issues. And they want to - and I've heard this from police chiefs. The International Association of Chiefs of Police issued a very powerful statement two days ago, recognizing the systematic decades of underinvestment in the kinds of social systems in housing and homelessness and education, and how that's all been placed at the feet of police officers. This needs to be a holistic evaluation of what spending priorities have been in communities that have been saturated with a criminal justice response, but under invested with resources for education and jobs, and the like.
2:39:00 Rep. Greg Stube (FL): But there are proposals in this bill that are extremely dangerous for those who protect our communities. Removing qualified immunity is only... Qualified immunity is only a protection if officers follow their training and protocols. If they don't follow the training and protocols, they don't get to use the immunity because it's qualified. If officers don't have qualified immunity to follow the training and protocols. I don't know a single person who would want to become a law enforcement officer in today's world, knowing that they may or may not be able to use the training and protocols that they were used to be able to apprehend a suspect who is not complying with them. But maybe that's the goal of the majority to get less and less people to join our law enforcement offices.
2:59:00 Vanita Gupta: Justice Department currently only has one law that they can use to prosecute police misconduct. And as you said, it has the highest mens rea requirement there is in criminal law requiring not only that prosecutors prove that the officer used unreasonable force, but actually also that the officer knew that what he or she was doing was in violation of the law and did it anyway, that is actually a very high burden. And so for years, there have been case after case that the Justice Department has been unable to reach it because of how high this burden is. There are many criminal civil rights prosecutors that for years have also wanted the change that is being proposed in the Justice in Policing Act, because I think it would enhance the Justice Department's credibility in these matters to be able to hold officers who violate federal civil rights laws accountable. And so this Justice in Policing Act asks it change the mens rea standard to knowingly or with reckless disregard, to slightly lower standards so more cases will be charged. It also really importantly broadens the language of the federal civil rights statute by including in its definition of a death resulting from an officers action, any act that was a substantial factor contributing to death. And I know many, many former US Attorneys that are eager to see this change as well.
3:07:00 Vanita Gupta: It is a real shame that in 2020, we still do not have adequate data collection on use of force in this country. We've had to rely for several years on journalists to putting this stuff together at the Washington Post and at The Guardian. The FBI has started to try to more systematically collected it, but this bill, the justice in policing act actually includes a requirement for states to report use of force data to the Justice Department, including the reason that force was used. Technical Assistance Grants are established in this bill to assist agencies that have fewer than 100 employees with compliance. That was often the reason that that police agencies were not reporting on this, but it also requires the Attorney Generals to collect data on traffic stops, searches, uses of deadly force by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and to disaggregate that data by race, ethnicity and gender.
3:26:00 Vanita Gupta: This national registry would have misconduct complaints. It would have discipline termination records, it would have records of certification. It contains conditioning for money for funds from so that agencies actually have to put in inputs before they can access federal money, but it is high time for this to happen.
3:39:20 Vanita Gupta: The Trump DOJ has essentially abandoned and abdicated a mandate that was given by Congress in 1994 to investigate patterns and practices of unconscious, systemic, unconstitutional policing and police departments around the country. Since the administration began, there has been the opening only of one on a very tiny issue at the police department out of Springfield, Massachusetts, compared to 25 in the Obama administration, and many others in Republican and Democratic administrations prior to that. And so what that has meant is that the tool of these investigations, the tool of the consent decrees has just been lying dormant. Typically, when I oversaw the Civil Rights Division, we had mayors and police chiefs that really, in numerous instances, were actually asking the Justice Department to come in because they needed federal help in very bad situations. And so, jurisdictions have not been able to rely anymore on the Justice Department to support these kinds of efforts. And I think this bill, Justice in Policing does a lot to strengthen the Civil Rights Division's authority, giving it subpoena power, giving it resources. It also gives State Attorneys General the ability to do these patterns and practices where they have already state laws that allow them to do it as well. And that's, of course in this moment, with a justice department that is very disengaged from these issues. An important...
Hearing: Oversight of Federal Programs for Equipping State and Local Law Enforcement, United States Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, September 9, 2014
- Alan Estevez - Principal Deputy Defense Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics
- Brian Kamoie - FEMA Grant Programs Assistant Administrator
- Peter Kraska - Professor at the School of Justice at University of Eastern Kentucky
- Mark Lomax - National Tactical Officers Association Executive Directior
26:00 Alan Estevez: More than 8,000 federal and state law enforcement agencies actively participate in the program across 49 states in three US territories. More than $5.1 billion of property has been provided since 1990.
26:15 Alan Estevez: A key element in both the structure and execution of the program is the state coordinator, who is appointed by the respective state governor. State coordinators approve law enforcement agencies within their state to participate in the program, review all requests for property submitted by those agencies along with the statement of intended use. Working through state coordinators. Law enforcement agencies determine their need for different types of equipment and they determine how it's used. The Department of Defense does not have the expertise and police force functions and cannot assess how equipment is used in the mission of individual law enforcement agencies.
27:14 Alan Estevez: Law enforcement agencies currently possess approximately 460,000 pieces of controlled property that they have received over time.
27:20 Alan Estevez: Examples of control property include over 92,000 small alarms 44,000 night vision devices 5200 High Mobility Multi Purpose wheeled vehicles or Humvees and 617 mine resistant ambush protected vehicles or MRAPs. The department does not provide tanks, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, crew served weapons or uniforms.
28:20 Alan Estevez: During the height of Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey, police drove cargo trucks and three Humvees through water too deep for commercial vehicles to save 64 people. In Wisconsin, Green Bay police used donated computers for forensic investigations. During a 2013 flood in Louisiana, Livingston parish police used six Humvees to rescue 137 people. In Texas armored vehicles received through program protected police officers during a standoff and shootout with gang members.
30:35 Brian Kamoie: The department's preparedness grant programs assist communities across the nation to build and sustain critical capabilities to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism and other catastrophic events.
33:00 Brian Kamoie: Grant recipients must purchase equipment listed on the department's authorized equipment list, which outlines 21 categories of allowable equipment. The department prohibits the use of grant funds for the purchase of lethal or non lethal weapons and ammunition. These equipment categories are not on the authorized equipment list. Homeland Security grant funds may be used to purchase equipment that can be classified as personal protective equipment, such as ballistics protection equipment, helmets, body armor, and ear and eye protection. Response vehicles such as BearCats are also allowed. The Homeland Security Act allows equipment purchased with grant funds, including personal protective equipment to be used for purposes unrelated to terrorism. So long as one purpose of the equipment is to build and sustain terrorism based capabilities.
33:46 Brian Kamoie: The authorized equipment list also notes that ballistic personal protective equipment purchased with grant funds is not for riot suppression.
40:10 Alan Estevez: When it's no longer needed, we make it available not just cross levels across the Department of Defense first, and law enforcement by congressional authorization as dibs early in that process before it goes out to state agencies. And not all the equipment that's provided to law enforcement is available to everyone else.
40:45 Alan Estevez: Again, it's not for the department to really judge how law enforcement's...that's not our expertise. We rely on the state coordinators, appointed by the governor of each of those states who vet incoming requests from their local law enforcement agencies.
48:00 Coburn: How do you all determine what Federal Supply classes are available to be transferred? Alan Estevez: That is done basically by our item managers who... Coburn: I know, but tell me how do they decide MRAPs appropriate for community of my hometown, 35,000 people. Alan Estevez: that is done by the state coordinate... Coburn: I understand that but how did you ever decide that an MRAP is an appropriate vehicle for for local police forces? Alan Estevez: We know an MRAP is a truck senator with Coburn: No it is not a truck. It's a 48,000...offensive weapon. Alan Estevez: It's a very, very, very heavy...it is not an offensive weapon, Senator. Coburn: It can be used as an offensive weapon. Alan Estevez: When we give an MRAP, it is stripped of all its electronic warfare capability. It does not have a 50 caliber weapon on it. It is not an offensive weapon, is a protective vehicle.
49:15 Coburn: How do we ever get to the point where we think states need MRAPs. How did that process come about? Alan Estevez: Now this is one of the areas that we're obviously going to look at senator. How we decided what equipment is available. I mean, obviously we've made some big decisions, fighter aircraft tanks, strikers, those type of things are not available. Sniper Rifles - not available. Grenade launchers - not available. Coburn: Drones are available. Alan Estevez: No. Coburn: Airplanes are available. Alan Estevez: Airplanes are available. Cargo helicopters. Helicopters, not Apaches. Okay. Coburn: But but really you you can't tell us today how we make those decisions of what goes on the list and off the list. Alan Estevez: It's basically a common sense decision inside the department and then we do as I keep saying go back to the states.
50:15 Coburn: When something is removed from the list, and I don't know if you have any recent experience with this, are agencies are required to return the restricted equipment. Alan Estevez: That's why we retain title for what we call controlled equipment so that we can pull that equipment.
57:00 Alan Estevez: So as force structural changes, as our budget changes, things that we thought we would need, were are no longer needed. Or things that we bought for the war. And I'm not not talking about tactical rifles and like I'm talking about basic medical kits, that type of stuff may no longer be needed as we draw down force structure based on changing environment on the ground. PCA changes our force structure, things that we required will no longer be needed as that force structure changes. That's the basic reason.
58:30 Senator McCaskill: The Lake Angeles Police Department in Michigan, you gave them 13 military assault weapons since 2011. They have one full time sworn officer. So one officer now has 13 military grade assault weapons in their police department. How in the world can anyone say that this program has a one lick of oversight if those two things are in existence? Alan Estevez: I'll have to look into the details on each of those. The rule of thumb is one MRAP validated by the state coordinator for a police department that requests an MRAP no more than one. So I'd have to look at the incident in Senator Coburn's state. And same thing with rifles...weapons. Senator McCaskill: I will make part of the record the list we have a long list of law enforcement agencies that received three times as many 5.56 and 7.62 military grade weapons per for full time officer and this is a long list.
1:05:00 Senator Johnson: This program, which has apparently provided about $5.1 billion of free equipment since 1997. It's all been free, correct? Alan Estevez: Yes. It's not free to the taxpayer. We bought it used it on... Senator Johnson: Free to local governments, correct? Alan Estevez: That's correct. Senator Johnson: Free local to police departments. Alan Estevez: Yes, sir, Senator. Senator Johnson: Do you know if too many police farms return free things down? Alan Estevez:Again, I'm not in the position of a local police department, but if something was available, and they thought they needed it, because they have to sustain this equipment, if they thought they needed it, and it was useful to them. Why not?
1:23:15 Rand Paul: In FEMAs authorized equipment lists, there's actually written descriptions for how the equipment should be used. And it says it's specifically not supposed to be used for riot suppression. Mr. Kamoie? Is that true that it's not supposed to be used for Riot suppression? And how do you plan in policing that since the images show us clearly, large pieces of equipment that were bought with your grants being used in that Riot suppression? Protest suppression, rather. Brian Kamoie: Senator Paul, that is accurate. The categories of personal protective equipment that include helmets, ear and eye protection, ballistics personal protective equipment, is a prohibition in the authorized equipment list that is not to be used for riot suppression. Rand Paul: And what will you do about it? Brian Kamoie: We're going to follow the lead of the Department of Justice's investigation about the facts. We're going to work for the state of Missouri to determine what pieces of equipment were grant funded, and then we have a range of remedies available to us. Should there be any finding of non compliance with those requirements. Those include everything from corrective action plans to ensure it doesn't happen again. recoupment of funds. So we'll look very closely at the facts. But we're going to allow the investigation to run its course and determine what the appropriate remedy is.
1:25:20 Rand Paul: Mr. Estavez in the NPR investigation of the 1033 program, they list that 12,000 bayonets have been given out. What purpose are bayonets being given out for? Alan Estevez: Senator, bayonets are available under the program. I can't answer what a local police force would need a bayonet for. Rand Paul: I can give you an answer. None. So what's the what's President Obama's administration's position on handing out bayonets to the police force? It's on your list. You guys create the list. You're going to take it off the list. We're going to keep doing it. Alan Estevez: We are going to look at what we are providing under the administration's review of all these programs. Rand Paul: So it's unclear at this point whether President Obama approves of 12,000 bayonets being given out. I would think you can make that decision last week. Alan Estevez: I think we need to review all the equipment that we're providing Senator. And as I said, we the Department of Defense do not push any of this equipment on any police force. The states decide what they need.
1:26:00 Rand Paul: My understanding is that you have the ability to decide what equipment is given out and what equipments not given out. If you decided tomorrow, if President Obama decided tomorrow that mine resistant ambush protection 20 ton vehicles are not appropriate for cities in the United States. He could decide tomorrow to take it off the list. You could decide this tomorrow. My question is, what is the administration's opinion on giving out mine resistant ambush protection 20 ton vehicles to towns across America? Are you for it or against it? Alan Estevez: Obviously we do it senator we're going to look at that. I will also say that I can give you anecdotes for mine resistant ambush protected vehicles that protected police forces in shootouts. Rand Paul: But we've already been told they're only supposed to be used for terrorism, right? Isn't that what the rule is? Alan Estevez: Our rule is for counter-drug, which could have been the shootout I'd have to look at the incident. Counter-narcotics counter-terrorism.
1:28:00 Rand Paul: The militarization of police is something that has gotten so far out of control and we've allowed it to descend along with a not a great protection of our civil liberties as well. So we say we're going to do this, it's okay if it's for drugs. Well look at the instances of what have happened in recent times. The instance in Georgia just a couple of months ago, of an infant in a crib getting a percussion grenade thrown in through a window in a no knock raid. Turns out the infant obviously wasn't involved in the drug trade, but neither was even the infant's family - happened to have been the wrong place the wrong time. No one's even been indicted on this. So really, this is crazy out of control and giving military equipment and with a breakdown of the whole idea of due process of no knock raids and not having judges issue warrants anymore. You can see how this gets out of control and people are very, very concerned with what is going on here. And I see the response so far to be lackluster, and I hope you will do a more complete job in trying to fix this. Thank you.
1:32:20 Ayotte: Is there any coordination between the grants that homeland is giving in light of what the departments are receiving on the 1033 front? Brian Kamoie: We don't coordinate in the decision making about local law enforcement requests. The process that Mr. Estevez has laid out, we don't coordinate that at all.
1:51:40 Peter Kraska: The clear distinction between our civilian police and military is blurring in significant and consequential ways. The research I've been conducting since 1989 has documented quantitatively and qualitatively the steady and certain marks of U.S. civilian policing down the militarization continuum. Culturally, materially, operationally, and organizationally, despite massive efforts at democratizing police, under the guise of community policing reforms, the growth in militarized policing has been steep and deep. In the mid 1980s, a mere 30% of police agencies had a SWAT team. Today well over 80% of departments, large and small, have one. In the early 1980s, these these agencies conducted approximately 3,000 deployments a year nationwide. Today, I estimate a very conservative figure of 60,000 per year. And it is critical to recognize that these 60,000 deployments are mostly for conducting drug searches on people's private residences. This is not to imply that all police, nearly 20,000 unique departments across our great land, are heading in this direction. But the research evidence along with militarized tragedies in Modesto, Georgia, Ferguson and tens of thousands of other locations, demonstrates a troubling and highly consequential overall trend. What we saw played out in the Ferguson protests was the application of a very common mindset, style of uniform and appearance and weaponry used every day in the homes of private residences during SWAT raids. Some departments conduct as many as 500 SWAT team raids a year. And just as in the two examples above, and in the Ferguson situation, it is the poor and communities of color that are most impacted.
1:54:00 Peter Kraska: I mentioned that police militarization predates 911 this is not just an interesting historical fact it is critical because it illuminates the most important reason or causal factor in this unfortunate turn in American policing and American democracy. It is the following: our long running an intensely punitive self proclaimed war on crime and drugs. It is no coincidence that the skyrocketing number of police paramilitary deployments on American citizens since the early 1980s, coincides perfectly with the skyrocketing imprisonment numbers. We now have 2.4 million people incarcerated in this country, and almost 4% of the American public is now under direct correctional supervision. These wars have been devastating to minority communities and the marginalized and have resulted in a self perpetuating growth complex. Cutting off the supply of military weaponry to to our civilian public is the least we could do to begin the process of reining in police militarization and attempting to make clear the increasingly blurred distinction between the military and police. Please do not underestimate the gravity of this development. This is highly disturbing to most Americans on the left and the right.
1:57:30 Mark Lomax: The threat that firearms pose to law enforcement officers and the public during violent critical incidents has proven that armored rescue vehicles have become an essential as individually worn body armor or helmets in saving lives.
2:11:30 Peter Kraska: The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 had been in place untouched for quite a long time until the 1980s drug war. And it wasn't until the 1980s drug war it was actually the Reagan administration that wanted to completely repealed Posse Comitatus. But what instead happened is they just amended it significantly, to allow for cross training and weapons transference. And just as an aside, I don't want to make too much of an aside, but we also have to remember that the Department of Defense has been very actively involved in training local police departments as well, not just providing them equipment, but providing them training. I've got a great quote that if you, I'm not going to read it now, but if you asked me to read it, I will. that talks about even having navy seals and Army Rangers come to a local police department and teach them things. So it's not just weapons transference. The federal government has increasingly since 911 played a significant role in accelerating these trends towards militarization. And, you know, the extent to which the 1033 program, Department of Homeland Security funds, etc, have contributed to it. I would certainly call it significant. But I think we have to remember that the that the militarized culture have a component of policing, and it's just a component of policing. This isn't a unified phenomenon at all of police in the United States of America. Hell, we have a police department right next to us, Lexington PD, very smart, very wise. They don't do this kind of thing at all, and they would never do it. So the police in communities a bit split over this. And I don't want anybody to get the impression because of the experts we've heard that policing is all for this stuff, because it's just not true. There are lots of folks that aren't. Anyway, back to federalisation. So, I think the federal government's played a significant role in probably the last 10 to 14 years.
2:14:10 Peter Kraska: This had everything to do with prosecuting the drug war. And that's when we saw the precipitous rise in not only the number of SWAT units but the amount of activity. That's when we saw departments doing 750 to 1000 drug raids per year on people's private residences. That's when we saw police departments all over the country in small little localities sending off two or three officers to a for profit training camp, like Smith and Wesson or Heckler and Koch getting training and coming back to the department and starting a 15 officer, police paramilitary unit with no clue what they were doing whatsoever. That all happened as a part of the drug war.
2:26:50 Peter Kraska: Oftentimes, these kind of conversations devolve into an either or type of argument. And it's really critical to recognize that there are absolutely lots of situations. Columbine, for example, where you have to have a competent professional response, a use of force specialist, military, Special Operations folks, police special, whatever you want to call them, you have to have that, no doubt. What I was talking about was 60,000 deployments, as I was not talking about 60,000 deployments. For those situations. Those situations are incredibly rare. Thank goodness, they're incredibly rare. Those situations absolutely require a competent response, active shooter, terrorist, whatever kind of situation. Our research demonstrated conclusively that 85% of SWAT team operations today are proactive, choice driven raids on people's private residences 85%. What that means is that the original function of SWAT in the 1970s was the idea that SWAT teams were to save lives, they were to respond in a laudable way to very dangerous circumstances and handle the circumstances well. What happened during the 1980s and early 1990s drug war is that function flipped on its head. We went from these teams predominantly doing reactive deployments, maybe one to two of these in an entire municipality, one to two a year. Smaller jurisdictions, probably something like that wouldn't happen in 100 years, but they were there to handle it. This has devolved now into what I'm talking about widespread misapplication of the paramilitary model.
2:29:00 Peter Kraska: 50% of these small police departments... 50% of them are receiving less than 50 hours of training per year for their SWAT team. The recommended amount from the MTOA used to be 250. I think they've reduced it to 200. 250 hours versus 50 hours. These are not well trained teams. These are a localized 18,000 police departments all doing their own thing with no oversight and no accountability. And that's why we're seeing and we have seen hundreds of these kinds of tragedies that I've mentioned, but also lots of terrorized families that have been caught up in these drug operations and drug raids. Thank you.
2:35:30 Peter Kraska: Military gear and garb changes and reinforces a war fighting mentality amongst civilian police, where marginalized populations become the enemy and the police perceive of themselves as a thin blue line between order and chaos that can only be controlled through military model power.
2:47:50 Peter Kraska: Most police departments that handle civil protests correctly know that the last thing you want to do is instigate. It was just a wonderful article written in the Washington Post, it interviewed a whole bunch of Chiefs of Police that understand this and how you sit back and you don't antagonize and you certainly don't display this level of weaponry.
Hearing: Police Brutality, United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, March 20, 1991
- John Dunne: Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division
6:00 Rep. Howard Coble (NC): It would be my hope that this matter could be resolved internally in Los Angeles. The fear I have about what occurred on the coast is that many people are probably going to try to bash every law enforcement officer in the country. That's what bothers me. And I don't think this is an accurate portrayal of law enforcement in this country.
30:15 Rep. Henry Hyde (IL): I know civil rights prosecutions nationwide by year, compiled from annual Department of Justice Statistics, and in 1990, there was 7,960 complaints received and 3,050 investigations. I take it, a great number of the complaints were found to be without merit or beyond investigation, but cases presented to the grand jury or grand juries were only 46. So out of 3,050 investigations there were only 46 that you felt worth taking to a grand jury was that right. Mr. Dunn? John Dunne: Mr. Hyde in light of all of the circumstances, specifically, the key being whether or not the federal state interest had been vindicated. Yes, about one and a half percent, usually runs about 2% a year, of the complaints we receive actually go to prosecution.
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