Policing

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How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist


Updates
Recent Updates

  • 5/16/18 The House passed the Protect and Serve Act ("Blue Lives Matter) bill that has a penalty of up to 10 years for assaulting a police officer. The bill heads to the Senate for a vote. See how your representatives voted here.
  • 3/15/18 Sessions announces launch of Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC) a coninuation of the shift away from community oriented policing to more support for law enforcement. More information about CRI-TAC can be found here.
  • 2/5/18 The first case since the newly introduced FBI term, Black Identity Extremist to target and prosecute Black political activists, is in progress. Christopher Daniels has been detained in federal custody for over a month. A trial has been set for Monday, March 26.
  • 10/27/17 A leaked document reveals that the FBI has identified "Black Identity Extremists" as a domestic terrorism threat. The document claims that "perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence." [1] This perceived threat may lead to overreach and racial profiling, surveillance, and policing of individuals and organizations. New trainings for law enforcement officers are underway. The Center for Media Justice and the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request on 10/18/17 to learn more about the scope of the FBI operations and activities to date.
  • 9/15/17 The Department of Justice announced changes to the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance. [2] Instead of helping police departments to make meaningful reforms to reduce police violence and improve community trust, the program will now help police departments "fight violent crime."

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Laws Proposed by Congress

Legislative Actions

Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice

  • Demanding Oversight from Justice Act of 2017 (HR 3799) requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to pursue civil actions to stop civil rights violations by police. It also requires the DOJ to annually report complaints about unlawful police conduct including an explanation of why DOJ did not initiate an investigation or civil action.
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  • Email Privacy Act (HR 387) helps protect our privacy by requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant before they can access customer email communications or cloud-based storage. Previously, emails older than 180 days could be obtained with just a subpoena.[3]
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  • Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (HR 1556) helps protect civilians by limiting the ability of the Department of Defense to transfer military weapons to law enforcement. Currently, police are able to receive military weapons (see below, Police Militarization). This bill would prohibit certain transfers and would impose restrictions on other transfers.
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Harmful Legislation



  • The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (HR 38) would allow anyone permitted to carry a concealed firearm in their home state to do so within the borders of any other state that has concealed carry permits, even if the permit requirements are different. The bill also exempts these carriers from the federal ban prohibiting guns in schools.
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See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.

Police Militarization

In August of 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that reverses an Obama era order that prohibited police departments from receiving some types of military equipment. The restrictions were considered necessary after police responded to civilian protests with armored vehicles, snipers and riot gear. [4]. Previously some of the military equipment that was sold or given to local law enforcement agencies included mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, assault rifles, and grenade launchers. Research suggests there is a likely link between militarized equipment in the hands of law enforecement and increasd use of force and violence by law enforecement [5].

Read more about the militarization of civilian police departments here.

Read more and take action with Campaign Zero's strategy to limit local police departments' buying military weaponry here.

Learn more about the bill H.R.1232 - Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act that was introduced in 2015.

Protest Laws

Since the election, several bills were introduced that would discourage organizers from using their rights to free speech and public assembly. These rights are stated in the Declaration of Human Rights and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Trump Administration has voiced disdain for several protests, often calling them illegal or staged. Following this lead, some state lawmakers introduced harmful legislation at state levels. In 2017, 18 states introduced or voted on laws that make protesters face harsher consequences. However, many of the bills died or were changed to uphold the constitutional right to protest.

See an updated (as of 7/18/17) Protest Laws map here.

Go to OurStates.org to view the bills currently being considered in your state.

Limiting Investigations of Police Departments

Under President Obama, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made police reform a priority. The DOJ issued consent decrees (agreements with police departments that lay out reforms to address problems). Under President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has opposed these agreements. The Civil Rights Division of the DOJ is the branch that investigates when police violate citizen’s rights. Because of this, they are a likely target for Sessions as he works to limit the DOJ’s involvement in police department Civil Rights suits. collecting data

Consent Decrees

A consent decree is an agreement to settle a dispute. For criminal issues a consent decree is made without admission of guilt. For civil cases a consent decree is made without any monetary obligation.

Consent decrees have been signed by many cities. They are agreements to work with the Justice Department’s civil rights division on police reform. They address unconstitutional police practices and reforms to correct them after extensive fact-finding and research by the Justice Department.

Out of court agreements are similar to decrees, but cities are responsible for reforms without federal oversight.

Police unions endorsed Trump, have supported the nomination of Sessions for Attorney General, and have lobbied congress in the past for pro-police policies. During the Obama administration, the Civil Rights Division began investigations and initiated consent decrees and agreements to reform policing. [6]. On April 3, Attorney General Sessions issued a memo ordering the Justice Department to review all consent decrees to ensure pro-policing principles.

See the state pages for current decrees and agreements in your state.

Gun Violence Prevention

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are both supporters of Project Exile. Project Exile is a collaboration between law enforcement and federal prosecutors to bring gun-crime cases to federal court in order to impose longer sentences. It has been criticized for its unfair impact on black communities. During his campaign, Trump suggested that it should be expanded. [7][8] [9] Rather than target gun violence in white communities (largely consisting of domestic violence, mass shootings, and shootings by legal gun owners), Trump has proposed to address gun violence by focusing on "gang members" and "drug dealers" in “cities like Baltimore and Chicago.” [10] Project Exile and similar programs have disproportionately impacted black people. These policies put black defendants on trial in front of juries chosen from a federal jury pool, which is less likely to include black jurors. They result in longer sentences for those convicted, with these sentences served in federal prisons farther away from their families. [11]

Cooperation with ICE

Trump has threatened to cut federal funding from cities that do not cooperate with ICE agents as detailed in Executive Order 13768. [12] In April 2017, the administration announced that they would not be publishing a list of cities and counties that failed to comply with the ICE agents, as previously promised. This change is largely due to the confusion created by misleading information. ICE will suspend these efforts until they can refine their research methodologies.[13]

292 constitutional law, immigration law, administrative law, and international law professors and scholars have concluded that this threat is unconstitutional.

Sanctuary cities have been found to experience significantly lower rates of all types of crime, including lower homicide rates, than comparable non-sanctuary counties. [14] It is unclear if the limits on federal funding will be enough to change state/local policy. This is especially true when considering the impact of helping federal immigration authorities identify and deport undocumented immigrants on state and local economies.[15]

School-to-Prison Pipeline

The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the "disturbing national trend" where children are pushed from schools "into the juvenile and criminal justice systems." [16] This trend has been shown to criminalize student behavior and result in harsh punishments, including prosecuting youth in the adult criminal justice system.

Policing in Schools

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), within the Department of Justice, was created after the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed. COPS oversees funds used to address crime and disorder in schools through a partnership between schools and law enforcement.

Police officers are assigned to schools, where they are often called school resource officers (SROs). SROs do not receive standardized training from state to state, but are often given the role of counselor, mentor, and educator. In 2013, SROs received nearly four times as much funding as school counselors. [17][18]

SROs can handcuff students, use physical force, suspend students, arrest them, and bring them into the criminal justice system. SROs are often guided by “zero-tolerance policies” that penalize students harshly for behavior that is not usually seen as criminal (or is only a minor offense), no matter the circumstances.

Read more about “status offenses” (children's behavior that can be deemed illegal) that results in youth landing in the justice system in this report from Vera Institute of Justice.

Racial and Disability Disparities

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) collects data about key education and civil rights issues from virtually every public school in the country through the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC).

Released in 2018 for the 2015-16 school year, the data reveal that disparities are widening:

  • Black students represented 15% of K-12 school enrollment but 31% of law enforcement referrals and arrests, a 16% disparity. Compared to the 2013–14 school year, black students faced an 11% disparity in arrests and law enforcement referrals.
  • Black boys and black girls each made up just 8% of enrolled students, but black boys made up 25% of students suspended at least once, and black girls accounted for another 14%.
  • Black boys and girls accounted for 23% and 20% of students expelled respectively.
  • Nationally, children with disabilities represent about 12% of the overall student population, however they represent 28% of students referred to law enforcement or arrested, 26% of students who received at least one out-of-school suspension, and 24% of students who were expelled.
  • 71% of restrained students and 66% of secluded students had a disability.

More detailed data and comparisons will be added as they become available.


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Resistance Resources

Policing and Racial Disparities: Data Sources and Summaries

Police are not required to gather data about their use of deadly force or other parts of their work. Without this information, it is hard to see the patterns of bias, and how they affect policing. Below is a list of data sources about policing. The list includes data that are collected nationally or from multiple states, and include the race of the person who encountered the police.

Police Shootings—Nonfatal

VICE News Fatal and Nonfatal Police Shootings. The data are collected from the 50 largest local police departments in the United States from 2010 through 2016. Most data was sourced directly from law enforcement agencies and district attorneys. Many departments did not release data on race or did not keep demographic information. Race information was available for about 68 percent of incidents. More about the data.

Data Summaries
Key Findings
  • 20% of the people police shot were unarmed.
  • 20% of the shootings of black people began as pedestrian or traffic stops, compared to 16% for white people.
  • Police shot black people two and a half times more often than white people.
  • 10% of black people shot were under 18, compared with less than 2% of whites.

Police Shootings—Fatal

Mapping Police Violence. The data are collected from all available data sources (described below). Additional details are collected through social media, obituaries, criminal records databases, police reports and other sources. The race of 91% of the victims is known. The researchers state that the data represents nearly 100% of the total number of police killings that have occurred since 2013. More about the data.

Data Summaries
Key Findings
  • 25% of those killed in 2017 were Black people and were 13% of U.S. population.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed.
  • 37% of unarmed people killed by police in 2015 were black. (Black people represent 13% of the population.)
  • Unarmed black people were 5 times more likely to be killed than unarmed white people in 2015.

Fatal Force—The Washington Post. Journalists and researchers collected data from official and unofficial sources. More about the data. The race of 93% of the victims is known for 2016. The data can be downloaded.

Data Summaries
Key Findings
  • Black people were more likely to be shot after routine traffic stops than any other group.
  • Black people, 13% of U.S. population, were 25% of all people killed by police as of June 2017.
  • Mental illness played a role in a quarter of incidents.
  • In 2015, 55 of the police officers who killed someone had previously been involved in a deadly incident while on duty.

The Counted: People killed by police in the United States. These data are collected by journalists. More about the data.

Data Summaries
Key Findings
  • Black males aged 15-34 were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police.

Fatal Encounters. These data are collected from public documents and crowdsourced from reports. The data collection starts in January 2000. The data are downloadable. More about the Data.

Data Summaries
Key findings

U.S. Police Police Shootings Database. A crowdsourced collection of incidents of police shootings that have been posted on Twitter. The majority of data records do not have race identified.

Data Summaries
Key Findings

Killed by Police.net. The data are compiled from news reports of people killed by police since May 1, 2013. No additional information about the data.

Data Summaries

Arrest-related deaths—Bureau of Justice Statistics. The data are from an annual national census of people who died during arrest or while in custody. About the data. How to use the data.

Data Summaries
Key Findings
  • The tables do not contain current data. The tables that include counts by race are titled "by selected characteristics."

Expanded Homicide Data—Federal Bureau of Investigation. These data are collected voluntarily from police reports, and many law enforcement agencies do not participate. The FBI’s annual number of “justifiable homicides” by police is voluntary, and police are not required to submit details of fatal incidents.

Police Fatalities - Tasers

Inside the Taser, the weapon that transformed policing - Shock Tactics. The data include fatalities and litigation involving police use of stun guns. The findings are described, data are descriptive and visualized with mapping. More about the data.

Data Summaries
Key Findings
  • 328 (32%) of all Taser deaths among those with known race were Black.
  • 253 (25%) of Taser deaths involved a person showing signs of mental illness, emotional distress or a neurological disorder.
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Resistance Resources


Traffic Stops

The Stanford Open Policing Project. The data include vehicle and pedestrian stops by police and are collected from police agencies. The data can be downloaded. Tutorials about the data are here. More about the data and a minute video about the data.

Data Summaries
Key Findings
  • Black and Hispanic drivers are 20% more likely to be ticketed, searched, and arrested than white drivers (even after accounting for age, gender, and location).
  • Black drivers are 20% more likely and Hispanic drivers are 30% more likely to be ticketed compared to white drivers when pulled over for speeding
  • Black and Hispanic motorists are about twice as likely to be searched than white drivers.

Arrests

National Justice Database—The Center for Policing Equity. The data come from tracking national statistics on police behavior, including stops and use of force. It is standardized with a sample of volunteering police departments. More about the Data, Data details and report on how to use the data, and Data Overview.

Data Summaries
Key Findings
  • Black people were arrested 2.5 times more than verall arrests.
  • Black people were 3.6 times more likely to be arrested compared to Whites.
  • Racial disparities for violent arrests were found in 5 of 12 (42%) departments.
  • Racial disparities with use of force by police was not explained by different rates of crime by race.


Other data and research on a variety of policing topics

  • Police Data Initiative—Police Foundation and Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The data came from law enforcement agencies, technologists, and researchers with the aim to improve public safety. About the Data and Data FAQ. No data summaries are available.
  • Not Trained to Not Kill - Most states neglect ordering police to learn de-escalation tactics to avoid shootings. Scroll to "Which states require de-escalation training" for an interactive map to learn about your state.


Recent Updates

Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy
Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy

  • Much of Trump's policing agenda can be enacted through executive/administrative action without needing Congress to pass new legislation. However, these impact of these actions will be limited by the fact that the vast majority of policing is governed at the state and local levels. Most police violence is committed by state and local law enforcement, as well. For example, 98% of people killed by police are killed by state and local law enforcement officers.[20] Nearly 200 local law enforcement leaders have declared their opposition to Trump's "law and order" agenda,[21] and many cities have declared themselves "Sanctuary Cities" and refused to cooperate on Trump's deportation agenda.
  • While Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that he won't intervene to hold police departments and individual officers accountable for civil rights violations,[22] states can pass laws (see California) to authorize their state attorney general to conduct investigations and enforce these violations. Similarly, cities and states have the power to make necessary policy changes to restrict police use of force, oversight, and militarization in the absence of federal intervention.