Friday, June 19, 2020

on funding the police: what is Milwaukee getting?

There should be a police union spotlight every day, to sort of show where our police funding is going. For instance, Milwaukee. Milwaukee was the proud city in which two police officers, called by two black women, roundly scolded those black women for dissing fine upstanding citizen Jeffrey Dahmer. Then the police escorted Dahmer's victim, 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone, back to Dahmer's apartment and left him to Dahmer's care - the torture, murder and cannibal session of the night. One of those policeman made howlingly funny jokes about gays after having helped Dahmer - and, of course, after threatening to take the black women downtown for interfering with the cops. Later, that policeman, John Balcerzak, suffered the indignity of being fired from the force for criminal incompetence. Such injustice couldn't stand, with a strong union behind him, and a likely judge ordered him rehired. Balcerzak went on to become the police union head of the Milwaukee police - a position that meant he essentially ran the force.

An investigation last year found the force operating at peak Blacerzakian levels: 
At least 93 Milwaukee police officers — ranking from street cop to captain — have been disciplined for violating the laws and ordinances they were sworn to uphold, a Journal Sentinel investigation found.

Their offenses range from sexual assault and domestic violence to drunken driving and shoplifting, according to internal affairs records. All still work for the Police Department, where they have the authority to make arrests, testify in court and patrol neighborhoods.

Officers who run afoul of the law often aren't fired or prosecuted, the newspaper found. Consider:
At least six officers disciplined by the department for illegal behavior suffered no legal consequences whatsoever.

Sexual assault - no problem/ Shoplifting? No problem? Drunken driving? No problem.
And so it goes. It is like a mirror image of the victims of police brutality - the POC victims. From shooting dead black people in domestic disputes to shooting dead drunk and asleep people in cars, the police are there.

By 2015-2017, the forked over 21 million in civil suit losses due to cops
Police misconduct has cost Milwaukee taxpayers at least $17.5 million in legal settlements since 2015, forcing the city to borrow money to make the payouts amid an ever-tightening budget. 
That amount jumps to at least $21.4 million when interest paid on the borrowing and fees paid to outside attorneys are factored in, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found.  
In some cases, the costs pile up as the city continues to fight the cases for months or years, even after officers have been fired or criminally convicted in the same misconduct case. The costs far outstrip the $1.2 million the city sets aside each year for settling all of the claims it faces. 

So we know something about what the good communities of Milwaukee are getting in terms of supporting their men in blue through thick and thin. Sometimes what with returning victims to serial killers and shoplfiting, the Milwaukee police do confront rape. Luckily, the cop atmoshere definitely puts rape well below stopping black motorists. The PD discovered - or was forced to discover by pressure groups - that it had at least 6,000 untested rape kits in its storage. After "thousands" were tested, the Milwaukee cops arrested a grand total of 9 rapists from those kits in 2019. The union must have hated this: just think, that money could go to vacation homes for police officers! Which is why the department of Justice did the majority of the testing. Milwaukee's own police department apparently had other prioritiies.

So it goes with Milwaukee's crime wave situation. 
Funding the police - what, exactly, are we getting?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

25 million in cop abuse suits, and 1500 untested rape kits: Minneapolis

Very Serious People are coming out with the column headline: Defunding the police is crazy!
So perhaps we should talk first about funding the police. What are we funding?

Let’s take Minneapolis, the unexpected center of our disorder. I don’t have a breakdown of how much the Minneapolis department spent on tear gas and the latest military equipment. But we do have stats on how much the city spent on civil suit claims for police abuse: from 2003-2019 the cost was  25 million dollars.

I thought about this timeline and this figure after reading Pagan Kennedy’samazing and wrenching article about the invention and history of the rape kit. 

 In 2019, the Minneapolis police announced a non-fun fact: in the police storage unit they had discovered around 1500 untested rape kits, spanning thirty years. Definitely a bad moment for the chief, who had to explain how he had previously reported that there were around 200 untested kits.
Kennedy reports that there are huge cultural problems with cops and rape investigations. One of those problems is the persistent refusal of the city to shoulder the cost of the testing of rape kits, which comes to about 1500 dollars per kit. Astonishingly, this cost is often borne by third parties – nonprofit feminist groups making money from cake sales and the like.

So we have at least one metric for what police funding is about, and its priorities. Evidently, testing those kits would have cost 2,250,00 dollars. Apparently, the city’s thinking was: we can either check these kits and catch rapists, or for ten times that amount, we can pay for abusive cops.

They chose the latter path. And that made all the difference.

Law and order in the U.S. is not only racist and oppressive, but it doesn’t even keep law and order. It stores the evidence in the storage facility and goes out there and fights the real crime – falling asleep in a car at Wendy’s, passing, perhaps, a phony twenty dollar bill, selling cigs on the sidewalk without a license.
Perhaps policing in the U.S. isn’t very good? A question from a friend.

olivier blanchard and the free lunch: a comedy of errors

  The neolib economist Oliver Blanchard tweeted a very funny comedy bit, in which he played the part of “social democrat”. And he wrote: “As...