Former Philadelphia Police Officer Captain Ray Lewis Explains Why He’s Standing With Protesters In Ferguson
The Huffington Post | By Sam Levine
Posted: 11/25/2014 11:28 pm EST Updated: 11/26/2014 9:59 am EST
A former Philadelphia police officer says that he’s standing with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri to send a message that police are oppressing the majority of Americans.
“Number one, I want to give the residents of Ferguson the knowledge that there are some police that do support them,” Ray Lewis, a former Philadelphia Police captain told Al Jazeera. “I want to try and get a message to mainstream America that that this system is corrupt, that police really are oppressing not only the black community, but also the whites,” he said.
“It’s an oppressive organization now controlled by the one percent of corporate America. Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries.”
Houston Police Department reform is needed
New hires and body cameras are not the only solutions for the Houston police department.
Copyright 2015: Houston Chronicle Editorials Article, Updated 7:05 pm, Tuesday, August 18, 2015
If Houston is going to hire new police officers, then City Hall has to find a way for them to bring a new attitude to policing. (Eric Kayne/For the Chronicle) Photo: Eric Kayne, Freelance
Something amazing has happened across the country ever since smart phones put a camcorder in every pocket: There’s been a sudden drop in the number of reported UFO sightings and a spike in accounts of police brutality. It isn’t as if the aliens have grown camera-shy or law enforcement officers took a turn for the worst. Our nation’s self-imposed surveillance state has only revealed what’s been there the whole time: no ET, too many cruel cops.
These videos don’t tell us anything that people didn’t already know through dry numbers or reporting. Still, there is something about the visceral image of officers tasing, tackling or even killing unarmed citizens that elicits a gut response beyond the written word.
For good, hard-working police officers, this creates a new atmosphere of hostility. Law-abiding citizens may take an antagonistic attitude toward routine policing, viewing every cop through the frame of the most recent video.
That constant scrutiny can be tough, but it is well-earned. Law enforcement officers have all the power – the guns, the badge, the governmental monopoly on violence. Our courts have granted police a wide discretion to use physical force in situations where other citizens would face prosecution under the law.
Because of this power, people should demand perfection.
Houston isn’t immune to the problems of overpowered police. HPD has developed the reputation of a department where police brutality goes unpunished. In 2013, the Texas Observer ran an award-winning, two-part article titled “Crimes Unpunished,” which documents routine problems of officers failing to do their jobs while getting off after unnecessarily resorting to violence.
“Out of 706 complaints about excessive force, HPD disciplined only 15 officers.
For 550 shootings, HPD disciplined none,” the Observer reported, documenting the statistics from 2007 through 2012. “The message is clear: Either Houston police almost never abuse their power, or they abuse it with impunity.”
These numbers should be troubling not only for civil rights advocates, but also for average Houston taxpayers who want to know that their police department is doing its job correctly. At their core, officers are supposed to serve as lookouts, life preservers and taxis: They either protect people around them, help people in need, or shuttle dangerous people into the criminal justice system. Now Houstonians are paying for inconsistent results.
If Houston is going to hire new cops, then City Hall has to find a way for them to bring a new attitude to policing, as well.
Mayoral candidate Ben Hall, a former city attorney, has called for more body cameras to serve as a check on officers. Cameras are a right step, but they haven’t proven effective in preventing unnecessary violence from officers. After all, a dashboard camera didn’t stop a state trooper from threatening to shoot Sandra Bland with a Taser.
Technology can’t fix a broken soul. City Hall needs to impose upon any new recruits that their job first and foremost is to protect and serve the people, and allow the courts to dole out punishments. Houston will soon see a change in the mayor’s office, but a grander reform is needed.
OBAMA PRESSING FOR FEDERAL CONTROL OF LOCAL POLICE
Like Common Core for schools, plan ties funding to following rules
Published: 03/03/2015 at 8:20 PM CHERYL CHUMLEY
Call it Common Core for police. But the White House, in cahoots with the Department of Justice, has set in motion a plan that will expand federal control of community police forces, via standards handed from above called the “Task Force on 21st Century Policing.”
The plan was released Monday, Infowars reported. And its gist? Like Common Core, the education plan criticized by opponents as little more than a federal mandate that’s tied to funding, the just-released police plan would force local law enforcement agencies to follow federally set standards in return for receiving federal tax dollars.
“The U.S. Department of Justice, through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services [COPS] and Office of Justice Programs, should provide technical assistance and incentive funding to jurisdictions with small police agencies that take steps towards shared services, regional training and consolidation,” one of the plan’s points stated.
The proposal also advocates for the federal collection of more data from local police.
“There is a lack of uniformity in data collection throughout law enforcement, and only patchwork methods of near real-time information sharing exist,” the plan stated, in the “national standards” section, Infowars found. “These problems are especially critical in light of the threats from terrorism and cybercrime.”
President Obama said he hoped to soon implement the plan among the nation’s 18,000 or so law enforcement jurisdictions.
“I’m going to be asking Eric Holder and the Justice Department and his successor to go through all these recommendations so that we can start implementing them,” Obama said, according to Infowars. “I know that one area that’s going to be of great interest is whether we can expand the COPS program that in the past has been very effective, continues to be effective, but is largely underfunded – to see if we can get more incentives for local communities to apply some of the best practices and lessons that are embodied in this report.”
The release of the recommendations isn’t a surprise. Last December, facing concerted pressure from civil rights activists who were angered by police shootings they deemed racist – specifically, officer Darren Wilson’s killing of black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Ohio – Obama told his Justice Department to start creating plans for federal oversight of local police.
Then, he mostly said he wanted to curtail police use of military-type equipment. But he also proposed $263 million to boost the COPS program, and another $75 million to buy 50,000 body cameras for officers, various media reported.
Obama said this week that the work to enact tighter standards “is going to involve local police chiefs, local elected officials, states recognizing that the moment is now for us to make these changes,” Infowars said.
Official: US report finds racial bias in Ferguson police
ERIC TUCKER Mar 3rd 2015 5:04PM
WASHINGTON (AP) – A Justice Department investigation found sweeping patterns of racial bias within the Ferguson, Missouri, police department, with officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force, issuing petty citations and making baseless traffic stops, according to law enforcement officials familiar with its findings.
The report, to be released as soon as Wednesday, marks the culmination of a months-long investigation into a police department that federal officials have described as troubled and that commanded national attention after one of its officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, last summer.
It chronicles discriminatory practices across the city’s criminal justice system, detailing problems from initial encounters with patrol officers to treatment in the municipal court and jail. Federal law enforcement officials described its contents on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly before the report is released.
The full report could serve as a roadmap for significant changes by the department, if city officials accept its findings. Past federal investigations of local police departments have encouraged overhauls of fundamental police procedures such as traffic stops and the use of service weapons.
The investigation, which began weeks after Brown’s killing last August, is being released as Attorney General Eric Holder prepares to leave his job following a six-year tenure that focused largely on civil rights. The findings are based on interviews with police leaders and residents, a review of more than 35,000 pages of police records and analysis of data on stops, searches and arrests.
Federal officials found that black motorists from 2012 to 2014 were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched in traffic stops, even though they were 26 percent less likely to be found carrying contraband, according to a summary of the findings.
The review also found that blacks were 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal court judge. And from April to September of last year, 95 percent of people kept at the city jail for more than two days were black, it found. Of the cases in which the police department documented the use of force, 88 percent involved blacks, and victims of the 14 dog bites recorded by the department all were black.
Overall, African Americans make up 67 percent of the population of Ferguson, about 10 miles north of downtown St. Louis. The police department has been criticized as racially imbalanced and not reflective of the community’s demographic makeup.
Brown’s killing set off weeks of protests and initiated a national dialogue about police use of force and their relations with minority communities. A separate report to be issued soon is expected to clear the officer, Darren Wilson, of federal civil rights charges.
Ben Crump, the attorney for the Brown family, said that if the reports about the findings are true, they “confirm what Michael Brown’s family has believed all along, and that is that the tragic killing of an unarmed 18-year-old black teenager was part of a systemic pattern of inappropriate policing of African-American citizens in the Ferguson community.”
The report provides direct evidence of racial bias among police officers and court workers, and details a criminal justice system that issues citations for petty infractions such as walking in the middle of the street, putting the raising of revenue from fines ahead of public safety. The physical tussle that led to Brown’s death began after Wilson told him and a friend to move from the street to the sidewalk.
The practice hits poor people especially hard, sometimes leading to jail time when they can’t pay, the report says, and has contributed to a cynicism about the police on the part of citizens.
Among the report’s findings was a racially tinged 2008 message in a municipal email account stating that President Barack Obama would not be president for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”
The department has conducted roughly 20 broad civil rights investigations of police departments during Holder’s tenure, including Cleveland, Newark, New Jersey and Albuquerque. Most such investigations end with police departments agreeing to change their practices.
Justice Department officials were in St. Louis on Tuesday to brief Ferguson leaders about the findings, a city official said.
Several messages seeking comment from Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson and Mayor James Knowles III were not returned. A secretary for Jackson said he is not doing media interviews. Knowles has previously said the city is attracting a large pool of applicants to police jobs, including minority candidates seeking the position left vacant by Wilson’s resignation.
John Gaskin III, a St. Louis community activist, praised the findings, saying “Ferguson police have to see the light in how they deal with people of color.
“It’s quite evident that change is coming down the pike. This is encouraging,” he said. “It’s so unfortunate that Michael Brown had to be killed. But in spite of that, I feel justice is coming.”
Jim Salter and Jim Suhr in St. Louis and Alan Scher Zagier in Ferguson contributed to this report.
Speaker, Police Expert & Community Advocate
Retired Police Officers Applaud Arrest in SC Shooting of Unarmed Black Man
Posted: 04/10/2015 11:10 am EDT Updated: 04/10/2015 11:59 am EDT
NCLEO4J demands justice in shooting by white cop of black unarmed SC man.
North Charleston, South Carolina authorities were swift and decisive in their response to the video depicting a white police officer, on duty, shooting an unarmed black man as he ran away. Now we want justice!!!
The National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice Reform & Accountability (NCLEO4J) consists of a diverse ethnic group of veteran, retired police officers from across the nation. The NCLEO4J applauds South Carolina authorities’ quick response in the arrest of Police Officer Michael Thomas Slager who was charged in the death of, unarmed, Walter Lamer Scott, 50.
The mayor and police chief received a cellphone video that appeared to show Scott fleeing as Slager fired approximately eight shots in his direction; charges were filed less than an hour later.
Now that South Carolina has taken this very important first step in arresting and charging Slager with murder, the NCLEO4J along with the Scott family and an outraged community demand justice and accountability. NCLEO4J is looking forward to an equally swift and aggressive prosecution in this case.
It would appear that failure, by some police agencies, to aggressively pursue prosecution of egregious acts perpetrated by police officers has created a “teflon cop” type of atmosphere. Some police officers have been shown to act with impunity when it comes to the killing of black and brown men and exacerbated by the officers subsequent willingness to manufacture (false) probable cause to justify that thing that we all know is unjustifiable.
When police chiefs and police commissioners coddle dishonest police officers and circle the wagons to protect their police department rather than the community to which they promised to protect (& serve) we are left to scratch our collective heads in disbelief.
What is it going to take to stop this madness? When are police officers who abuse their authority going to be held accountable? Are we as a society finally ready to require our police officers to articulate that “fear for safety” in a real and undeniable way before we just “take their word?”
But for that cellphone video, Officer Slager’s version of the deadly shooting would stand alone. We have seen too many times where eyewitness testimony is discounted, if you come from the wrong side of the tracks; victims of deadly force are vilified and the exaggerating, fabricating police officer lives to offend again as in the deaths ofMike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford III and Ezell Ford.
This latest incident in South Carolina is not the first time that the South Carolina authorities have demonstrated a willingness and desire to seek justice. Remember in September 2014, when Levar Edward Jones had been stopped by a South Carolina state trooper, Sean M. Groubert, in Columbia and asked to show his driver’s license? As Jones reached inside his SUV to retrieve the license the SC trooper shot at him four times. Thankfully, Jones survived. Groubert was fired within two weeks and charged with felony assault and battery “of a high and aggravated nature.”
The National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform & Accountability will be watching as we continue to advocate on behalf of and with the families of victims of police brutality and deadly force.
It is the intention of the NCLEO4J to stand in support of victim families, movements and legislators like Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, co-sponsor of the” Build Trust Act.” NCLEO4J stands with a group of USC students who are involved in legislative research and advocacy entitled, “End Racial Profiling Act 2015.”
We endeavor to end the institutional racism that shapes every part of the United States criminal justice system, and work to end police culture that shields abusive and criminal officers from accountability while attacking those who point out their crimes and abuses — this is the NCLEO4J mission.
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Black & Blue (The Creation of a Manifesto): The True Story of an African-American Woman on the LAPD and the Powerful Secrets She Uncovered (Volume 1) by Cheryl Dorsey