LACP - NEWS of the Week
on some LACP issues of interest
NEWS of the Week
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the community policing and neighborhood activist. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We present this simply as a convenience to our readership.
"News of the Week"  

April 2019 - Week 4
Terri Lanahan
Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


Should cops ditch their guns? New Zealand sets example some think Canada should follow

by Jane Gerster

Last week, New Zealand police announced they were beginning the transition back to “normal” policing more than a month after a man shot and killed 50 people during the Christchurch mosque attacks. By normal, they mean the vast majority of police officers on the streets will go back to not carrying a gun.

That idea — that most cops should not be carrying guns unless the situation clearly warrants it — is commonplace in countries like New Zealand, Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom. For years now, it's been touted by some as a potential solution to the number of people in North America killed during interactions with cops.

Those disproportionately likely to bear the brunt of the scrutiny and violence? Black people.

Think of Andrew Loku. In 2015, the black father of five, whom neighbours described as sweet, was holding a hammer in an apartment building, clearly distressed, when police entered and killed him. An inquest two years later ruled it a homicide. The inquest heard at length about how multiple neighbours tried to calm Loku down and had almost succeeded in getting him to relinquish the hammer when police arrived. Shortly after their arrival, Loku was dead.

Despite these cases and the public condemnation they inspire, the idea of disarming police officers hasn't caught on in Canada. Should it? Could it?

Why people are calling for cops without guns

Right now, the people who are often getting shot by police are people in distress, those with mental health issues and those who are involved with drugs or “may be experiencing an episode,” said Kevin Walby, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg who has researched the impact of the militarization of Canadian cops.

“Maybe if we didn't load up every officer with a firearm, we could decrease those kinds of deaths almost in an instant,” he said.

That doesn't mean police are walking around unarmed, says Angela Wright, a Canadian political analyst who wrote last fall about why cops should give up their guns.

How it would work if cops gave up their guns

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to take guns out of the everyday equation, Wright says.

What it doesn't mean is sending cops out with bare hands or barring their access to guns in cases in which a situation arises that warrant them.

What it does mean, she says, is “creating situations that make fatalities significantly less likely.”

That could mean leaving a gun locked in a police car while patrolling with batons and pepper spray to decrease the likelihood that a cop shoots first and de-escalates later.

“The way we're going now, increasing funding to police forces and increasing the arming of police forces, is not actually doing much in terms of curtailing gun violence,” Wright said.

Last year was a particularly violent year in Toronto that saw a jump in crimes involving guns. In December, the police chief said officers recovered more than 500 handguns, up from just 222 the year prior. At the same time, homicides resulting from shootings increased nearly 30 per cent.

Why not everyone wants to disarm the police

Greg Brown, a post-doctoral researcher at Osgoode Hall Law School and also a former cop, is “unequivocal” in his rejection of the possible disarming of police officers.

“It's a terrible idea,” Brown said.

“You're dealing, in these kinds of situations, with very motivated individuals who are willing to risk their lives, most often to carry out a certain purpose … It's a monumental mismatch.”

Look at the Moncton shooting in 2014 in which Justin Bourque went on a shooting rampage, killing three Mounties and injuring two others. The RCMP was later convicted of Labour Code violations for failing to ensure members had the appropriate training and equipment to confront an active shooter.

“You want to be confronting the threat with the best quality weapon that you have,” Brown said, adding he understands there is opposition to the militarization of policing.

Concern over that opposition cropped up during the Labour Code trial, with then-RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson testifying that he was cautious when it came to arming his members with high-powered carbine rifles specifically because possible militarization can “distance the public from the police.”

Conflating police patrolling in tanks with police carrying “the necessary weapons to confront individuals with high-quality weapons and intent” is dangerous, says Brown, who rejects most arguments in support of taking guns away from police in most scenarios, saying their proponents “have, generally, a pretty strong anti-police bias.”

“We would all love to live in a world where everything is sunshine and lollipops,” he said. “But society has shifted … I hate to read reports over and over again of police officers being murdered, quite often in circumstances where they are outgunned.”

Some of the places where police don't routinely carry guns still have high levels of gun ownership and usage, says Walby, rejecting the idea that gun violence is a reason police need to always carry guns. In some of those places, he says, they are ditching the firearms in a bid to build trust.

“They want to decrease the types of almost random shootings that they get involved in, which damage their legitimacy, and they want to send a message of non-violence and peace rather than militarization and aggression.”

Why it would be hard to disarm Canadian police

For more than a year now, the Green Party of Quebec has been attempting to generate enough momentum to ban most police from carrying around guns. It's a petition the party's leader, Alex Tyrrell, says was borne out of the cases he keeps seeing crop up in Montreal in which a person with mental health issues is shot by police during moments of crisis.

“Having the police armed makes the police officers less approachable. People feel threatened by it,” said Tyrell, who would like to see a police force pilot a project that mimics New Zealand's approach to cops and firearms.

“We should try turning back towards community policing,” he said. “Seeing the guns right on the belts of the officers in the context where there are people being killed on a somewhat regular basis is really what damages relations.”

While a pilot is certainly feasible, Walby says it would take serious political leadership to get the ball rolling, and even then, buy-in from all levels of government would be required — and there's a big barrier: the role of the gun in Canadian society.

Throughout the colonization of Canada, Walby says, “the gun actually was quite a prominent object in the daily lives of many people. Sometimes, they were holding it, and sometimes it was being pointed at them. There's a kind of racialized dimension to this from the great march west.”

Many still see the gun as a promise of security, he says, which makes even having the conversation about possibly making it less the norm for cops to wear guns at all times on their belt trickier.

“It doesn't seem like the gun is going to be the answer to solving the gun problem,” Walby said. And yet:

“It's almost kind of lodged in a lot of people's psyches in Canada: guns keep us safe, therefore police should have guns. That kind of simple equation is going to be difficult to disrupt.”


New Zealand

Police create Evidence-Based Policing team to fight crime with data and research

by Tommy Livingston

A Wellington-based team of people are fighting crime – but not in the traditional way you might think.

Instead of hitting the streets looking for guns and gangs, scientists and academics are pouring over research and data.

"You could call it fighting crime with academia," head of the group Superintendent Bruce O'Brien said.

The Evidence-Based Policing (EBP) team – the first of its kind in the world – was created at the end of last year.

The EBP is the brainchild of Police Commissioner Mike Bush, and it aims to use statistical analysis of crime data to inform police practice better.

"EBP is fundamentally about targeting problems, testing solutions in live environments and tracking results to ensure the best outcomes."

EBP was a term first coined by American criminologist Lawrence Sherman in the late 1990s and has been a developing field of research ever since.

New Zealand police are the first to create a centre solely dedicated to EBP research projects, and distributing those findings to the wider police force, O'Brien said.

"It is a completely unique model; there is nothing like it anywhere in the world at the moment."

"A lot of police forces have done research into crime, with the new centre we have the ability to operationalise that research."

The type of research the team will conduct will be varied but could include looking at homicide trends, how to better police domestic violence or how long police should remain at a crime scene.

It will mean scientists will be working on the streets with police to collect data.

"It allows us to be extremely agile and conduct short, medium and long term research and experiments, depending on the issue that we are dealing with.

"This gives us confidence that solutions to problems can be found quickly, but also allows for longer-term research to be conducted."

O'Brien, who has worked for the police for almost twenty years, was inspired to research crime reduction after seeing the impact of burglaries in Manukau, Auckland.

He won a scholarship to the University of Cambridge, where he completed a masters degree in 2018.

He now leads the team, which includes researchers, data scientists, design experts and works collaboratively with academic advisors from the University of Waikato.

The centre is also partnered with the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) and Vodafone to conduct the work.

O'Brien hopes the centre will be able to produce world-class research within the next year.

"I want to see New Zealand police recognised for contributing to the body of science and criminology research, nationally and internationally.

"Our objective is to have numerous field experiments up and running across New Zealand over the next twelve months."

Ultimately, O'Brien hopes the centre will lead the way for better policing in communities across the country.

"We are sending people out into our communities every day. We need confidence the work they are doing actually works."



This US mayor joked cops should “mount .50-caliber” guns where AI predicts crime

by Justin Rohrlich & Dave Gershgorn

A controversial California mayor wants local police to “hurry up” with the expansion of a citywide surveillance system before anyone finds out and forces it to stop.

During a March 26 city council meeting in Lancaster, a desert community of 160,000 in Los Angeles County, city official Patti Garibay discussed an IBM Watson “dashboard” that police have been using for the past six to eight months to focus enforcement efforts.

Garibay, Lancaster's energy manager, calling it a “hybrid policing model,” said the city is working with IBM to “automate and to use machine learning” so the “machine will tell us, ‘This is where you need to be.'”

“With machine learning, with automation, there's a 99% success, so that robot is—will be—99% accurate in telling us what is going to happen next, which is really interesting,” Garibay told the mayor and other local officials, citing test results from “the city of Idaho.”

“Well, why aren't we mounting .50-calibers [out there]?” asked mayor R. Rex Parris, referring to a powerful rifle used by military snipers, quickly adding, with a broad smile, that he was “being facetious.”

Predictive policing is part of a widening trend in the US and elsewhere for cities looking to embrace technology. Companies like IBM and PredPol promise reduced crime rates and better allocation of resources when police use their proprietary algorithms.

Researchers and activists warn that predictive policing can lead to abuses, including the targeting of minority populations. Critics say the use of opaque algorithms can launder biases that officials might be striving to overcome in their police forces.

The desert crime scene

Lanscaster is looking to use this technology for a broad range of policing activities, including community policing and crime prevention, as well as addressing homelessness and panhandling, according to procurement documents reviewed by Quartz.

The city has been described by Vice as “an area best known for neo-Nazis and meth labs.” A nexus of gang violence and hate crimes, Lancaster experiences 83% more crimes per square mile than the rest of California. Violent crimes per capita are nearly double the national average.

Garibay went on to explain that the city is exploring additional surveillance technologies, including facial recognition software and drones.

“You guys are incredible,” Parris, a personal-injury lawyer by trade, exulted. “I mean, think about this. There's no other city in the world doing what you guys are doing. And nobody knows it. Wow. You'd better hurry up and get it done or they're gonna make us not do it.”

The “99% success” rate “was not based on historical accuracy…but rather on IBM technology in general,” Tess Epling from Lancaster's administration department tells Quartz, adding that IBM has reportedly achieved accuracy rates of “more than 90% within models they've built including traffic, weather, and more.”

IBM makes no public reference to its predictive policing software's accuracy, and IBM does not have any known public contracts in the state of Idaho. When contacted, IBM told Quartz it would try to find information on any 99% figure.

“From my perspective the whole thing is an example of a ‘smart' city being pitched by people who really aren't thinking through the consequences or even know how the stuff works,” says Dave Maass, an investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who alerted Quartz to the details of the city council meeting.

Hard to foresee where predictive policing goes

Sean Goodison, a senior research criminologist with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a Washington, DC nonprofit that works with US law-enforcement agencies, tells Quartz that there is “no standard way to measure” the effectiveness of predictive policing algorithms such as IBM's.

“Often, predictive policing software compares itself to ‘random' policing to claim superior prediction skill,” Goodison says. “While objectively true, the comparison reflects a straw-man fallacy in that no police department randomly assigns all its resources or expects to see crime distributed randomly within a jurisdiction.”

In 2015, the city of Miami, Florida received a grant to start work with predictive policing software called HunchLab, the Miami Herald reported. The project didn't take off, according to Rob Guerette, an associate professor of criminology at Florida International University (FIU), who was involved with the assessment of the software.

“The original hope was that they could use the newest, slickest thing out on the market,” Guerette tells Quartz. “There was so much ambiguity around the ultimate usefulness of it that they decided instead to change direction and they decided to instead invest in improving their human capital.”

Predictive policing is remains a new and unproven technology. A report this year in New York University's law review found that improper data practices artificially brought down the official crime rates in cities like Chicago and New Orleans, which meant machine-learning systems were not being given the correct data.

Additionally, claims about the accuracy of predictive policing have not been subject to critical examination, say experts.



Citizens group calls for more transparency, accessibility in public hearings on Equality Indicators

by Kevin Canfield

DOCUMENT: Letter from 'Demanding a Just Tulsa'

A group of concerned citizens calling itself Demanding a Just Tulsa has sent a letter to city councilors and Mayor G.T. Bynum calling for more transparency, more accessibility and more accountability in the City Council's upcoming public hearings on the 2018 Equality Indicators Report.

The letter, which lists more than 100 signatories, also demands that Bynum and Police Chief Chuck Jordan attend all of the Equality Indicators meetings and that the council hold a fifth public meeting to assess whether community policing efforts have contributed to “decreasing racially discriminatory policing.”

Bynum's proposal to establish an Office of the Independent Monitor was prompted in part to provide a tool for the city to review its community policing practices, ensure that best practices are being used, and to measure whether the program is working as intended.

Among those listed as signatories on the letter was Pastor Ray Owens of Metropolitan Baptist Church. Owens said the findings of the Equality Indicators Report came as no surprise to many in the city's African-American community.

His hope, he said, is that the meetings can lead to sustained and strategic efforts to correct the injustices outlined in the report.

“I want to be part of the work of really pressing our city leaders, and, frankly, all citizens in Tulsa, to take seriously the findings of the Equality Indicators Report ... ,” he said. “I am of the mind that until citizens really raise their voices and demand that our elected officials and people who serve in public office take this seriously, things won't happen.

“Certainly they won't happen in the kind of time frame that we believe it has to happen.”

Bynum confirmed Thursday that he received the letter.

“I received the letter and immediately replied to let Reverend (Ray) Owens know that I have always planned to attend these meetings, and that I am eager to hear what they yield,” the mayor said.

Tulsa Police Sgt. Shane Tuell said Jordan would attend the meetings he is required to attend.

“And the department will assign a subject-matter expert to provide the council with information upon their request,” Tuell said.

The City Council last month voted to hold four special meetings on the Equality Indicators Report, one each month from May through August. The report, issued by the city last year, found racial disparities in police practices, including that African-Americans are more likely to experience use of force at the hands of police officers than other races.

That assertion — which has been challenged by the Police Department and the union representing officers — and others prompted a call for the City Council to hold public hearings to examine how the report was put together, why the disparities in police practices exist, and what can be done to eliminate them.

The format for the special meetings calls for councilors to receive comments and questions from the public for an hour at their regularly scheduled Wednesday meetings at City Hall, with individuals limited to three minutes each.

Councilors would then use the public input to formulate their questions for panelists at the special meetings. The public would not be allowed to question panelists at the special meetings.

Each panelist, including the community representative, would have to be approved by a majority of councilors.

In its letter, Demanding a Just Tulsa praises the City Council for scheduling the meetings but insists on changes to the format.

“Our priorities are ensuring full community participation, transparency, and a robust examination of the policies, practices, and culture resulting in racial disparities in policing practices, including arrests and use of force,” the letter states.

The organization's other proposed format changes include:

• Allowing the Greater Tulsa Area African-American Affairs Commission to select the community representative panelist.

• Holding Equality Indicators special meetings at a large, easily accessible venue.

• Holding public comment meetings on the Saturday morning before each special meeting.

• Allowing each speaker at the public comments meetings no fewer than five minutes.

• Requiring at least five councilors to be present at public comments meetings.

• Allowing residents to recommend panelists, and require city officials to explain why a resident's recommended panelist was not chosen.

• Requiring at the end of the process that the city provide recommendations on police practices and policies to effectively address racial disparities in policing.

Councilors are expected to decide on the list of panelists for the May special meeting later this month.

The May special meeting will address racial and gender disparities in police arrests of adults.

Other topics to be discussed at the special meetings are: racial and gender disparities in police arrests of juveniles (June); racial disparities in police use of force (July); and minority and gender underrepresentation in the Police Department.

Councilor Lori Decter Wright, one of three councilors who helped develop the format for the special meetings, did not respond to a request for comment from the Tulsa World.


Central America

Where Does Aid to Central America Go? Police Officers, Farmers and NGOs

by Elisabeth Malkin

President Trump said last week that he would cut off aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the home countries of most of the migrants arriving at the United States' southern border to seek asylum.

The Trump administration has already taken the first step to act on the president's directive, notifying Congress that it wanted to divert the $450 million allocated to the region. By Monday, though, the administration had not offered details about whether any aid — such as military aid or support to combat drug trafficking — might be exempt from the order.

If the aid withdrawal does go ahead, aid advocates say, it would probably affect the region's most vulnerable people, including small farmers struggling to adapt to climate change and teenagers pressured to join gangs in a region that is a major drug transit route, according to State Department estimates. Advocates say that, should these threats to lives and livelihoods grow, many more people will take their chances on the road and leave for the United States.

The decision to end aid is likely to provoke anger in Congress, where lawmakers in both parties have supported efforts to address the root causes of migration. If the money is ultimately withheld, it would affect a wide range of programs designed to improve citizen security, promote economic development and encourage accountable government.

Security and justice

Mr. Trump has complained that the governments of the three countries have done too little to halt immigration, and portrayed the withdrawal of aid as punishment for their leaders.

A vast majority of the aid, however, goes to nongovernmental organizations, churches, charities and private contractors that carry out projects for the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development. According to the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights research group, the largest portion of aid has gone to improving security and justice systems, and to preventing violence.

Aid varies from country to country to address their different needs. In El Salvador, where the United States has helped support a broad antiviolence program, 57 percent of the $149 million in aid allocated in 2017 went to projects intended to prevent violence, improve security and community policing, and train judges, prosecutors and public defenders.

In Honduras, where aid reached almost $182 million in 2017, the highest percentage of funds — some 44 percent — went to support programs that improved justice and security, with an additional 30 percent allocated for antipoverty programs among the country's rural poor.

The aid also supports anticorruption measures by providing funds for international prosecutors who have been investigating graft in Honduras and Guatemala, and a special anticorruption unit in the Salvadoran attorney general's office. In advance of Guatemala's elections in June, the United States has also helped finance the country's electoral agency.

The United States also supported border security and efforts to combat drug trafficking, though those funds accounted for a smaller percentage of the overall aid. The Pentagon set aside millions to improve drug interdiction and to supply equipment and training to counter trafficking in Honduras.

Economic aid

In Guatemala, poverty, rather than violence, is the main driver of migration. More than half of the $178 million in 2017 aid went to programs to alleviate poverty, particularly in the country's western highlands, where many children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Economic aid is the next largest block of American support in Central America, after security and related programs. The funds support small businesses in Guatemala, schools in Honduras and job training for at-risk youth in El Salvador, among other projects. Some of the programs are broader, such as an effort to bring down high power costs by connecting electrical grids and financing new infrastructure.

In 2017, $18 million was allocated to help farmers in Honduras diversify their crops and improve productivity, to reduce extreme hunger and poverty; and $14.5 million to help small-business owners, including funds to help create a sustainable system for cacao production.

In Guatemala that year, more than $10 million was designated to help communities adapt to climate change's effects — such as increased drought and coffee-destroying fungus — and $6.3 million to help the Health Ministry prevent maternal and infant deaths, and prevent H.I.V. infections.

Changing priorities

Until a large wave of unaccompanied minors from Central America arrived at the Texas border in 2014, American aid to the region focused on economic growth and law enforcement. But the surge of child migrants, which was in part spurred by the high murder rates in the Northern Triangle, prompted the Obama administration to request more money from Congress for a broader approach to the region.

As a result, aid increased to $750 million in 2016 before beginning to drop under the Trump administration. Over all, Congress allocated almost $2.1 billion to Central America from 2016 to 2018, most of it for the Northern Triangle countries, though agencies have been slow to spend all the money.

Murder rates have fallen in all three countries but poverty remains as entrenched as ever — and it remains difficult to assess how effective the aid has been, particularly over such a short period. Advocates argue that programs need years to take effect.

The Trump administration has also redirected its emphasis toward security and away from the focus on ethical governance. That shift has taken pressure off Central American governments to become more accountable, and both the Guatemalan and Honduran governments have recently pushed back against anticorruption efforts.



Police have no business calling on military to quell local unrest – Ex-IG Arase

A former Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, in this interview with ADELANI ADEPEGBA, examines the rising wave of criminality across the country and how to address the challenge

What is responsible for the rise in crime rate in the country?

Insecurity is a very big problem and you should appreciate that we are just coming out of elections. Most of the foot soldiers that were occupied one way or the other (during elections) now have a very big space to play. Apart from that, insecurity in the country has been a big problem over the years. You can geo-locate it: In the North-East, you have terrorism; in the North-Central and North-West, cattle rustling and banditry. Sometimes, I wonder why we don't have institutional memory of issues. In 2015, when banditry started in the North-West and North-Central, the G7 (the various governors in seven states) came together to harness their joint resources to deal with the issue. Why can't we sustain such strategy of dealing with insecurity that can be handled through regional initiative? If you look at international communities like the European Union, there are regional arrangements set up to tackle common problems. If you want to talk about internal security arraignments, you are talking about putting together men and materials. There is no country in the world that can claim to have sufficient manpower and resources to deal with issue of security. That is why you have regional security arrangements. I would have thought that we would have replicated such initiatives like the G7 in different zones of the country. When you do that, you prevent what is called crime dispersal. So, if you are dealing with a particular security situation in the Federal Capital Territory, for example, you don't allow it to disperse to Kogi State.

Do you think the police need the support of the military to handle the problem?

Constitutionally, there is what is called military assistance to civil power; and you have military assistance to civil authorities. The support of the military to the police is constitutionally agreed upon. But when do the police accept that they need assistance from the military? What are the processes to follow in asking for that assistance? What are the withdrawal strategies? If you invite them, what is the timeline? Is it supposed to be perpetual? These are the issues we should be talking about. At the last count, the soldiers were deployed in about 28 states of the federation. We should not be discussing whether the police were supposed to ask for assistance from the military, but the exit strategy. Do you make it something permanent, which would create a kind of siege mentality in the citizens? The police can't be everywhere. The military has about 100,000 personnel and the police, about 400,000. Out of that, you take into cognisance the specialist branch, the drivers, the mechanics. Give or take, the operational men should be about 350,000. And don't forget that a lot of people say we are policing the elite; so, you should look at the number that is supposed to police the public space vis-à-vis what we give to the elite. Then, you will discover that the police cannot have the numerical strength. But modern policing is not about numerical strength; it is about the deployment of technology. If you look at most crises that have happened across the world, the detection of those crises is dependent on how robust the technical platform is. Consider the Sri Lanka terrorist attack. Twenty-four hours after, they had a roll back from their surveillance equipment to show how everything went down. I remember I consistently proposed that we should have legislation that stipulates that all public utilities like shopping malls, housing estates should have Close Circuit TV cameras. Before you give a building approval, it should be part of the consideration. With this, you are using a private initiative to complement government platforms. The Boston bombing, if you remember, was caught on a security camera owned by a supermarket. There is a way you can always build on the technical platforms. Deploying manpower across the length and breadth of the country is no longer a fashionable strategy.

What happened to your legislative initiative?

It was supposed to be an executive bill. I wanted to initiate it through the government; maybe I didn't stay long enough to push it. I don't think it can die that way. I also believe too that some private initiatives are going to be needed in terms of advocacy about what is supposed to be done. The reliance on the police and the army is becoming too much and we must be able to complement it with technology. Security architecture is not about men; it is about men, materials and how you utilise them.

Some people believe the security challenge is an indictment on the police. Is that correct?

Well, I heard that argument, but it may not necessarily be an indictment on the police force. It may be that our policymakers are always too reactive to breakdown of law and order. I give you an example. I have a governor friend and we were talking about how the state government could assist in rejiging the security platform in his state. The first thing he told me was that they have to bring in the military. Why should they bring in the military? The threat they are facing is not the type that requires the intervention of the military. If you have an increase in kidnapping or armed robbery, it is not the military that should deal with that kind of situation.

What should be done?

You simply need to strengthen the police system in your state. Give them more vehicles; insist on intelligence-driven system. The standard operating procedure of the police is quite different from that of the military. So, even if the military succeeds in apprehending a kidnapper, our legal system does not allow them to prosecute the suspect in court. A soldier cannot compile a case file. The issue of command and control always comes in when you hear of joint patrol. It is always a disaster because it does not achieve its purpose. There is always that inter-agency rivalry. Who would take control of the operation? Will the military subordinate their operational procedure to civil authorities? But the issues you are asking them to deal with are civil issues. So, there must be a way to change the mindset of the political elite. Why should you deploy the military for things that are strictly police functions? Then, also, the police have to up their game; it's about thinking outside the box. That's why I feel sorry for the Inspector-General of Police. Something happens in Zamfara; he hops onto a plane and goes there. There are commissioners of police; there are various commanders, divisional officers. These people should be able to rise up to the occasion. The duty of the IG should be restricted to inspecting standards. That is what the nomenclature stands for. Are standards being maintained, both operationally and tactically? Those are the issues. Adamu (acting IGP) was telling them two weeks ago when he had a meeting with the commissioners of police that they had to up their game. The IG office is huge and political. They should not be dragging him into operational matters which the commissioners of police are supposed to deal with. While we should be reluctant in always deploying the military personnel, the police component too should be able to rise up to the occasion and restore public confidence in their competence.

Experts have said the IG's office is over-centralised. Do you subscribe to the decentralisation of the police force?

That was the recommendation of Dan Malami Reform Committee and the MD Yusuf panel. They are of the view that the country has become so large that the issues we were dealing with when we had four regions are different from the ones we have now with seven regions. The dynamics and typology of crimes have changed. The panel was saying if you are going to deepen community partnership or community policing in dealing with issues of internal disorder, then there has to be a way you allow for discretion from the divisional police officers to the area commanders, the commissioners of police, the Assistant Inspectors-General of Police and the DIGs. The office of the IG, just as you rightly mentioned, has been over-centralised. If it is over-centralised, so what are the functions of the DIGs? We have seven DIGs; the argument is that there is redundancy in the departments under them. Don't forget, when there is contest for the IGP office, you throw up all the contestants. The ambition of every police officer is to become an IG once they become a commissioner of police. So, you discover that after someone has been chosen as IG, there are some other disgruntled officers who failed to clinch the position hanging around, and there are centrifugal forces pulling the system through some negative politicking and all those types of things. It doesn't make well for good administration. So the argument is: why can't there be a competitive selection process for you to know the competence of the DIGs? Send them to the geo-political zones, give them sufficient latitude to man those zones. From there, you have a DIG who would be the second in command to the IG and those departments can have AIGs manning them. If you look at the police hierarchy, once an AIG mans the department, he is more creative, more hardworking and expectant that the harder he works, the more he endears himself to the IG. For the DIGs at the zones, you would assess their professional and intellectual capacities, you can easily know. If an officer is tactically sound, you can easily know from the way his zone is managed. Then, that could also be a selection ground for a new IG when the tenure of the substantive one expires. You could judge the DIGs from the crime statistics and other indices in his zone. I think the police reform bill mentioned something like that. I hope they take a look at it. It would be a good way of devolving power. Those reports, apart from devolving power, are also supposed to lead to fiscal autonomy for the police.

Do you think it is necessary to retire DIGs and AIGs when appointing a new IG?

It could be counterproductive because after training them with so much money and you then ease them out of the system. It's the fall-out of military regimes where senior officers are retired when a junior officer emerged as a superior officer. There is what is called status reversal where the junior officer now gives orders to his former superior. They believe psychologically, it would not be nice. So, they allow the senior officer to retire. That is why it is necessary to interview officers with cognate experience for the IG position. You can ask all eligible officers to make a presentation. Now that we are talking about crime, you could ask them to present their template or strategic plans for dealing with cattle rustling, kidnapping and banditry. No man has a monopoly of knowledge but every aspiring officer should be able to demonstrate professionalism, understanding of the problem, strategies and implementation plan and timeline in the short term, medium term and long term for dealing with the issues. Without consideration for primordial inclinations, we would be able to come out with the best candidate. With this, the casualties we usually have within the police leadership would be reduced to some extent.

Do you support the clamour for the IG to go through Senate confirmation?

They are talking of guarantee of tenure. If you have an IG who is excessive, who wants to always please the executive, he could sometimes throw professionalism overboard. If you now give the power the executive has over the choice of the IG to the Senate, if they co-share it, the same pressure that the incumbent IG is facing from one direction would come from two directions. Supposing the National Assembly also decides to put some pressure on him, threaten him just to intimidate him as they accuse the executive of doing, it would be a double-edged sword. To me, it's all about professionalism. If you are not a policeman, you won't know the kind of pressure police officers go through. If you are in the legislature, the way you see a policeman is different. I could imagine the over-bearing nature of Commissioners of Police who want to have their way over policing functions in their jurisdictions. It is now left to the police management to define their roles and what is inimical to the interest of the country. The tenure guarantee is good if the lawmakers won't be in breach of what they are trying to cure. Sometimes, what they fixed may be at variance with civil service rules which say once you are 60 or have spent 35 years in service, whichever comes first, you should retire. Supposing the IG has about two or three years to leave the service and the tenure is five years, how do you manage that? They should have left it in such a way that it doesn't offend the civil service rules or they could marry the two together in such a way that the intendment of the law is also guaranteed.

Are you worried about the spate of extrajudicial killings by policemen in recent times? What should be done?

There is no one who is not worried about the situation. Once you belong to an organisation, even if you exit, your thoughts are still with that organisation because it gave you the national recognition and international exposure. A lot of us get worried when we hear things like that. That comes again to the issue of policy summersault and sustainability. Most of the killings usually occur at roadblocks; and roadblock is no longer fashionable. You can only man roadblocks when you reasonably suspect that something has happened and it should be ad hoc, spontaneous, to spring a surprise. You pull it off after dealing with the issue. I had the issue of extrajudicial killings during my tenure but my approach was the same with Adamu's, the current IG. Life is sacrosanct; nobody has the right to take anyone's life. So, when it happens, the full weight of the law has to be applied. After the administrative action of relieving the culprits of their duties, you take them through the judicial process. That alone does not solve the problem; you must be able to come up with a policy directive.

How do we permanently halt extrajudicial killings or accidental discharge and so on?

I think the best thing to do is to dispense with, once and for all, the issue of roadblocks. Let's go back to manning our highways, the safer highway system. The government should buy more vehicles; let's crime-map the country; identify the areas more prone to crime; put out more patrol vehicles there; provide fuel for the vehicles and lunch packs for the personnel. I tried to come up with psychometric test for policemen. We should do some random sampling for operatives we deploy outside. If we are going to deploy officers outside, policing function is very stressful; it is not everybody that can handle stress. There is a limit to which you can manage stress. In many jurisdictions, you don't allow policemen to work for 24 hours without changing them. That's why I was always talking about technical platform. We over-deploy our men. When someone is stressed, his tolerance level is low. We don't have the same tolerance level. Some people can go on for 48 hours and you don't find them intemperate. Introduction of non-lethal weapons such as stun guns and stun batons would also help in reducing cases of extrajudicial killing. We used to have stun baton which would only disable you and not kill. I think the government should provide these things.

What do you think is fueling the banditry in Zamfara?

I am a security technocrat. I look at issues from a general point of view. How did we bring about youth restiveness in the Niger Delta where I come from? If you look at the genesis of the crisis in the Niger Delta, you would see that apart from the crisis of the ecosystem and environmental degradation, the elite also were responsible for causing the crisis that later erupted. I think there are parallels anywhere you have had a state of anomie, where there is a total breakdown of law and order; you hold the elite responsible. If you try to get your foot soldiers and arm them against your political opponents, by the time you start enjoying the perquisites of office, you can still sustain them for some time, but it gets to a time you tend to forget while some of them who are loose start to misdirect the structure you have put in place; and you may be a victim of it. It's a general thing across Nigeria. If you watch most places where we have this kind of problem, you will discover some element of elite involvement.

Can the bombing of the bandits' hideouts by the air force solve the problem?

I don't know if you read the book, ‘When men rebel'. It is a classic novel written by a former member of a terrorist group. The rational of the book is that when you deploy excessive force in dealing with a socio-economic problem, the result could be very negative. That is why a lot of people, who have had some comparative studies in issues we are living with in this country, advise that you must identify the causative reasons why these things happened in the first place. Is it economic, social, religious or political? Then, try to deal with those issues. A lot of strategies can be deployed in trying to ensure that the community partnership with government is more robust. You are able to feel the pulse; sometimes you use diplomacy; sometimes, force; but there is nowhere in the world where the use of excessive force has been able to solve a problem like this. I think we should look at the cause(s) of the problem; whether the people are protesting against deprivation or highhandedness. There must be reasons why these things happen. That is why you have social scientists and psychologists. You must be able to identify the issues before you now proffer a solution to it. But the use of force as the final solution doesn't solve the problem. That book further says those people do things deliberately to provoke government to lose legitimacy in the eyes of the people. If they kill security agents, the government would react. They would use the issue of force deployment to turn the argument around against the government to make it lose legitimacy and win more adherents to themselves. I think it is always good for you to have a mental scan of issues before taking decision.

Is excessive force being deployed in Zamfara?

The bandits have been excessive in the way they attacked people. There are two paradigms in analysing security: the first is the enforcement strategy when a crime has become so serious and the citizens are demanding a quick solution. Then, the government would deploy force to show that it is still in charge. The other strategy could be dealing with the issue using the rule of law matrix. This is why I got worried when the IG Response Team arrested some kidnap suspects along the Abuja-Kaduna highway, paraded them and you are waiting for the prosecution to start so they can be sent behind bars but you don't see the prosecution happening. So, there is a disconnect between the arrest that we make and the use of the judicial system to correct the issues we are dealing with.

Who do you blame for the non-prosecution of crime suspects?

I blame the police. They have not been able to manage the arrests and prosecution together. I set up the IRT; it was supposed to be the operational wing utilising the intelligence from the technical platform. When the IRT converted from an operational body to an investigation agency for which they probably did not possess the required qualifications to handle, their cases were always truncated along the line. There must be a body of investigators trained to elicit further information from suspects arrested by the IRT. The IRT was not meant to be an end product the way it was structured. It was structured as a high profile, highly mobile team that could utilise intelligence, pick up the kidnappers and hand them over to a group of professional investigators who would be able to put the evidence together. Among the investigators would be lawyers and officers trained in the art of interrogation and prosecution. You can also seek the assistance of the judiciary to get the ingredients required to make the case file impenetrable. It is when you start eliciting the evidence in the court that it gets to the public domain. These days, it seems that once crime suspects are arrested, the social media is awash with the information; you are already killing your evidential proof. Those are the gaps that I think we should be able to fill.

How will you assess Federal Government de-radicalisation programme against the backdrop of reports that some former insurgents went back to fight with Boko Haram?

That is what is done in other climes. There is nothing bad about it; but when de-radicalising insurgents, you must be able to know where they are at any point in time. If you de-radicalise them and they go back to their former terror group, in other climes, that is not allowed because they have all their vital data and biometrics. So, once they are moving, you have a way of tracking them and that is where technology is vital. It is like rehabilitating a drug addict; he would want to go back to drugs. It takes time, even if you take them to rehab. Ideological movement based on political and religious considerations are very dangerous. You must adopt a de-radicalisation process; that's why I talked about winning hearts and minds. You must be able to change the narrative and win them over to your side.

Is the call for state police right?

In most states in Nigeria, we have a semblance of state police. When you have Lagos State Traffic Management Agency in Lagos and other quasi-structures being managed by state governments, it's just that they are implementing municipal laws indigenous to those states. When you mention state police in Nigeria, it evokes a lot of emotions, people feel you want to go back to regionalism, but policing is local



White lies — and worse — earn pink slips for police officers in Southern California, once-secret files show

by Tony Saavedra and Ian Wheeler

Former Santa Monica police Officer Kevin McInerney just wanted a cuddly puppy from the city animal shelter — so badly that he told others vying for the dog what seemed like a small lie, that he had a daughter.

Ex-Whittier traffic cop Jonathan Herrick coveted a special CHP award — enough to accept credit for a stolen car recovered by a co-worker. It was his colleague's well-intentioned idea to push Herrick past the finish line.

And former La Habra Officer Brian Torres, once part of the region's Homeland Security Task Force, wanted to go to the beach with a female colleague who wasn't his wife. While playing hooky from his job, Torres triggered a missing person investigation amid fears that he had been abducted because of his work with dangerous informants, who turned out to be nonexistent.

All the officers were fired or forced to leave for lying. The early release of once-secret police misconduct records under a new California transparency law reveals some departments come down hard for dishonesty.

Police files unearthed under the law that took effect Jan. 1 — Senate Bill 1421 — also show that officers sometimes tell big, case-affecting lies as well.

In October 2015, former Irvine officer Blake Reutershan was fired after the department reviewed 45 of his reports and found that the majority omitted facts and contained inaccurate statements. Two years earlier, Irvine police terminated officer Michael Wong for the same problem and for disarming the camera in his patrol car at crucial times.

Experts say one of the concerns about police officers who tell even the smallest of lies is that their false statements can be used to discredit their testimony in unrelated court cases. While the badge brings a certain amount of automatic credibility with jurors, it can be easily tarnished.

“The code of silence … that's really a thing of the past,” said Connecticut attorney Elliot Spector, who represents police officers. “Are there some officers who will take the risk? Of course there are, but when they are caught, it ain't worth it.”

Misconduct files were released by Santa Monica, Whittier, La Habra and Irvine police departments as well as the Fontana Unified School District in response to public records requests by the Southern California News Group.

The group has teamed up with 38 other news organizations across the state as part of the California Reporting Project, which is working to retrieve police records under SB 1421 in cases of dishonesty, sexual misconduct, officer-involved shootings and other uses of force.

As of mid-April, the collaboration has asked for records — documents, photos, video and audio files — from nearly 700 law enforcement agencies in California, including 327 city police departments and all 58 county sheriff's agencies.

Of more than 1,000 requests made so far, about 100 responses have included internal files dealing specifically with deceit.


In his mind, McInerney deserved to adopt the homeless puppy. He recovered the dog from a stolen car tracked down by police in October 2013. Then a four-year veteran, McInerney took the dog in his patrol car to the Santa Monica animal shelter, which is managed by the Police Department.

McInerney left word that he wanted to adopt the puppy as soon as possible. He returned off-duty the next morning to find that — because of a mix-up — a woman had been placed first on the adoption list.

Mulligan the dog on a camping trip with former Santa Monica police officer Kevin McInerney, who lied to get the pooch. (Photo courtesy Kevin McInerney)
According to personnel records, McInerney later identified himself to the woman as the officer who rescued the puppy. He also said his daughter would be disappointed if he didn't come home with the dog. McInerney, though, was childless.

The woman, whose name was withheld by police, then insisted that he take the dog. However, two other women lower on the list grew suspicious of McInerney and questioned him about the name and age of his daughter as well as where she attended school.

Unsatisfied with his answers, they complained to the shelter that McInerney was abusing his authority to win the dog. One of the complaining women wrote a letter to the mayor. According to personnel records, McInerney continued to lie to the sergeant managing the shelter about having a daughter.

Former Santa Monica Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, in her termination notice to McInerney, said he had violated one of the most important principles in policing.

“You lied about a material fact concerning police related business in order to provide an immediate benefit to yourself,” Seabrooks wrote.

She added that McInerney's actions “completely undermine the trust that has been placed in you by the department and by the community you are sworn to serve.”

In an interview with the Southern California News Group, McInerney argued that the department was selectively enforcing its honesty requirement.

“The whole thing is absurd to me … it just seemed like that sergeant (who handled the investigation) had it out for me,” McInerney said. “I don't disobey orders, and I don't lie while I'm on-duty, when it actually … counts.”

There is a silver lining for McInerney, one that points out another problem in the police world — the use of tax-paid retirements to cut ties with unwanted officers. McInerney won a disability retirement for post-traumatic stress disorder and now collects an annual pension of $65,782 for about six years of service, according to the public salary and pension database Transparent California.

And the woman who adopted the puppy came to his defense and gave him the dog — aptly named Mulligan.

“No big deal”

In 2014, then-Whittier cop Herrick needed to recover 12 stolen vehicles in one year to qualify for a special pin from the California Highway Patrol. Herrick was off work the October day that his friend, Officer Matt Balzano, went out to retrieve a stolen 2006 Chevrolet Silverado traced to Santa Fe Springs with the aid of LoJack.

Balzano, a 10-year veteran, initially placed his own name on the police form documenting the retrieval. But then he telephoned Herrick and made what appeared to be a generous offer. Balzano asked if he could cross out his own name and replace it with Herrick's — this would give Herrick the numbers he needed to get the award, called a “10851 pin,” referencing the Vehicle Code section for auto theft.

According to personnel documents, Herrick gave his approval. Balzano made the change after the report was checked by a supervisor. But the plan unraveled when Balzano bragged to a higher-up that he had helped Herrick, a six-year veteran.

Balzano later told investigators that he didn't believe falsifying the report was a big deal; he was just trying to help out a buddy. Whittier police officials said the lie was far more serious.

“The fact that you did not consider either the falsification of a police report or the knowing misrepresentation to another law enforcement agency in the hopes of receiving an award a ‘big deal' is extremely disconcerting,” wrote Capt. Aviv Bar to Balzano in a 2015 notice of intent to terminate. “Your deception and gross misconduct is inexcusable and unacceptable.”

Balzano was hired by the Imperial Police Department, near the border with Mexico, within three months of leaving Whittier. Imperial police officials declined comment. Records show Balzano makes $77,653 annually in pay and benefits at Imperial.

Herrick left the Whittier Police Department in 2016. He and Balzano could not be reached for comment.

A tangle of lies

By his own account, La Habra officer Torres lived an exciting life. The 10-year detective was a Homeland Security Task Force member who was recently struck by a watercraft while surfing — potentially by a lookout for drug runners. He had spent two days in the hospital and, shortly after, was contacted by a longtime confidential informant with a major tip about drugs from Mexico.

Or so the story goes.

Then his wife in 2014 reported him missing to the Azusa Police Department. She and co-workers were afraid because of the surfing accident. Maybe that was an attempted hit, they thought. Maybe he had gone to meet the tipster without any backup, according to his personnel file.

Then Torres' task force teammates determined that he had not spent any recent days in the hospital. There was no tipster or major drug operation. Records show Torres finally called in and said he had spent a planned day at the beach with a date.

The woman, another task force member, said she believed Torres was getting a divorce. Torres was suspended. When he turned in his police dog, others noticed it appeared underweight and neglected.

As Whittier police dug deeper into Torres' background, they uncovered nine affidavits in his desk, used to persuade judges to sign search warrants. All misstated his training and experience, records say.

Co-workers told internal investigators that he bragged about a drunken argument with Gov. Jerry Brown — so fierce he had to be escorted away by a CHP security detail. He said his family was independently wealthy and that he had worked for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. None was true.

In a meeting with investigators, Torres said he often signs affidavits prepared by other officers. He said this was common practice. Asked why, Torres said police departments are money hungry and pressure officers to conduct seizures.

Torres also conceded that he lied to make himself look better to co-workers.

“Detective Torres is unabashed in his use of fabrication, deceit and lies,” Capt. George Johnstone wrote in a memo recommending termination. “Torres has violated the confidence and trust placed in him as a law enforcement officer to the extent it cannot be restored.”

Torres could not be reached for comment. It is unclear whether his falsified search warrant affidavits were turned over to defense attorneys as exculpatory evidence.

White lie

Former Fontana Unified School District police Officer Richard Zbinden was trying to cut a kid a break after confiscating marijuana from him in January 2014. Zbinden thought the boy was otherwise a good kid with hopes of joining the military. So he wrote the police report without mentioning the youth.

Zbinden's “good deed” won him a 20-day suspension without pay from his $65,000-a-year job.

“The employee neglected his duty and did not represent Fontana Unified School District or the school police department in a positive light,” wrote Tika Dave-Harris, director of classified human resources at the district.

Zbinden, a former Pomona police officer for three years, said in his interview with the district: “I was trying to steer him away from marijuana … so he could follow his dream to be in the Air Force and to become somebody.”

Misstated facts

While some lies are small, others are big and can be very damaging.

In Orange County in 2015, prosecutors at the District Attorney's Office grew suspicious of police reports written by Irvine Officer Blake Reutershan. The police department later reviewed 45 of Reutershan's reports dating back to 2012 and found major problems.

For instance, Reutershan attributed statements to suspects who never made them. In one case, he allegedly wrote that a suspect told him she was going to sell Oxycodone to clients for $10 a pill. Recordings made by police showed she never said that.

In another case in 2014, Reutershan searched a hotel room without getting consent from the woman staying there. He wrote falsely in his report that she had allowed him to look around.

Five days before he received his termination notice on Oct. 27, 2015, Reutershan was arrested in Orange County for driving under the influence. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge a year later. He did not appear to be charged for falsifying dozens of police reports.

In 2013, the city sent a termination notice to officer Michael Wong for deception and omitting material facts from police reports. He also was suspected of disconnecting his mobile video system or conducting DUI tests outside the view of the camera, records say.

Wong told investigators he would never leave out information intentionally from a report and must have forgotten.

Reutershan and Wong could not be reached for comment.


Washington DC

DC council members call for reform after 'systematically unacceptable' handcuffing of 9-year-old boy

The incident is currently being investigated by Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine, who called the video ‘obviously concerning'

by Victoria Gagliardo-Silver

Police forces in the US capital are being called to make comprehensive changes to policing after a video emerged of a nine-year-old child of colour being ‘horse collared' and handcuffed by an officer in the city.

The young man had allegedly spoken back to an officer while leaning against a car. The officer then began to chase the boy before grabbing him by the collar and proceeding to handcuff him.

This incident follows a similar one in March, where a 10-year-old boy was handcuffed. Neither of the boys were charged.

The incident is currently being investigated by Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine, who called the video ‘obviously concerning'.

Local politician and Ward 6 council member Charles Allen wrote an open letter to the police chief, saying, “Even if the officers involved followed [Metropolitan Police Department] policies and protocols, the response was individually and systematically unacceptable.”

Council member Robert White Jr also shared his thoughts on the incident and the negative impact it will have on the community, saying, “What happened there was absolutely unnecessary as a parent it was devastating to me.

"I imagine what my reaction would be if I saw one of my children being treated like this by the people who really are here to protect them and for this young man and his friends, I have to understand the impact that that's going to have on them and their trust of the police.”

A spokeswoman for the police department said “MPD officers were in the vicinity during their normal patrol, making contact with residents when the incident occurred. The nine-year-old boy was not charged with any crimes. As with all use of force incidents, this is currently under internal investigation.” She also referred to to the police departments' standards of conduct with arresting minors.

The arresting officer, while under review for his conduct, is still employed by the MPD and is still on patrol.


New Zealand

Criminalising hate speech: New Zealand considers policing hateful expression

by Michelle Duff

A rugby star says homosexuals will go to hell. A man is arrested for hurling abuse outside a mosque. But are these rants illegal – and should they be? Just what is hate speech, and when does it become a crime? Michelle Duff reports.

Last year, a human rights taskforce was assembled to tackle what authorities considered was a growing issue.

Anecdotally, hate-motivated speech and acts were on the rise. Around three in 10 Kiwis reported viewing abuse online. In the real world, there seemed to be more reports of incidents – a beer can and an abusive tirade hurled at a Muslim woman here, an attempted racist assault there.

Staff from the Human Rights Commission (HRC), Netsafe, and UNESCO began meeting with researchers and Government departments in an attempt to understand if New Zealand's hate speech laws were strong and relevant enough in an age of cyber-abuse and rising online tribalism.

Then, global alt-Right figures Stefan Molyeanux and Lauren Southern hit the headlines when they were denied a platform by Auckland mayor Phil Goff ahead of a planned trip.

Members of the Muslim community during the call to prayer and peace vigil outside the Masjid Al Noor in memory of the mosque shootings in Christchurch.
Proponents of free speech were incensed. The public conversation swirled.

The taskforce quietly disbanded.

"We dropped the work," says distinguished professor Paul Spoonley, of Massey University, who wrote a briefing paper for the group last year. "There just seemed to be no public appetite for change, and we didn't think we'd get anywhere.

"Then, March 15 happened."

The terrorist attacks on two Christchurch mosques, in which 50 people were killed, have brought questions of whether New Zealand is doing enough to legislate against racial and religiously-motivated attacks to the fore.

For those in minority advocacy groups, and the Human Rights Commission, the answer is a clear no.

Justice Minister Andrew Little has signalled his agreement, telling Stuff in March he would fast-track a review of the existing legislation governing hate speech – primarily the Human Rights Act and the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

He would also consider sections of the Crimes Act, and did not rule out establishing "hate crime" as a separate offence, as it is currently in the United Kingdom.

Opponents, including ACT MP David Seymour and conservative think-tank the Maxim Institute, say free speech is a basic tenet of democracy and any hasty tightening of the law threatens to trample that right.

Australian rugby star Israel Folau posted on Instagram that hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars and fornicators" unless they repent.

The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act. But should that overshadow people's right to be safe? And where's the line?

'A gauge of our society'

It's 12.30pm in Palmerston North, and the door of the local Islamic Centre is wide open. Outside, Anglican priest Reverend Andy Hickman scoffs a samosa from the nearby halal dairy as he talks to Manawatu Muslim Association spokesman Zulfiqar Butt.

Since March 15, the association has been floored by the community's empathetic response. Butt scrawls through his phone, displaying pictures of rows after rows of flowers left by locals outside the mosque.

But, president Riyaz Rahman says, there is still work to be done. While most people are supportive, there have been hate-motivated incidents, too – such as a swastika-clad man loitering outside the mosque and a taxi driver who was racially abused and called a terrorist.

The association, along with its umbrella organisation the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), thinks more needs to be done to monitor the spread of hate. They are advocating for hate speech laws to be clarified, and want police to begin routinely recording hate crimes at the very least.

"It is mainly to gauge the state of our society. Sometimes we think we are living in a very harmonious society but these things exist, and we need to know how big the issues are," Rahman says.

"I think the freedom of expression that we have does not allow for hate to be curbed. Sometimes we're not able to identify the problem – there needs to be a line drawn somewhere so we know what is what."

Currently, "hate crime" is not a specific offence in New Zealand, and incidents are not recorded.

Manawatu Muslim Association president Riyaz Rahman says there is still work to be done on curbing hate speech.

This is in stark contrast to countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, where departments such as the Home Office and the FBI gather and publish annual statistics on hate crime and agencies exist to deal with this alone.

Since 2002, hostility against someone on the basis of a "common characteristic" – race, nationality, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or disability – can be considered as an aggravating factor in sentencing. Essentially, the penalty can be harsher if it has been proven the crime was motivated by hatred. But it's unclear how often this is used, as the data is not collected.

Police also have the ability to note when they believe a crime is hate-fuelled. But this isn't mandatory or routine either. And, while the ethnicity of the perpetrator is recorded, that of the victim is not.

Take the incident of April 10 in Christchurch, where a man in a Trump t-shirt allegedly hurled abuse at members of the Muslim community gathered at Masjid Al Noor on Deans Ave.

Two armed police were present, but did not arrest the man. He was arrested the next day, and charged with disorderly behaviour. Canterbury police district commander Superintendent John Price later said he should have been arrested at the scene.

In terms of statistics, there is no way of differentiating this from any other offence.

The Human Rights Commission and ethnic minority groups have been calling for this to change since at least 2016, saying there would be a way of police recording hate-fuelled crimes through their own processes, without it needing to be established as a separate offence under the Crimes Act.

The HRC's chief legal advisor Janet Anderson Bidois says police could alter their recording systems without needing a law change. "We need that front end data, and these are discussions that need to be had quickly."

But others think more specific legislation is needed. FIANZ spokesman Dr Anwar Ghani says hate crime laws such as those introduced in the United Kingdom are long overdue.

If attacks based on a victim's religion or race were expressly outlawed, people would feel more confident to report to police, and police to make arrests, Ghani says.

"A lot of people, because there's no law, think there's nothing that can be done so they don't come forward. A number of our members have been subjected to physical and verbal abuse, but they've thought as a new immigrant to this country they've just got to get through this.

"It's more prevalent than we would like to think."

Police would not be interviewed for this story. In a statement, a spokeswoman said they were "engaged in ongoing conversations" with community leaders and representatives about how police record allegations of hate crime and crimes of prejudice. They were set to review policy on collecting ethnicity data for victims.

What about hate speech?

"Most New Zealanders don't know what hate speech is, because they don't encounter it," says Spoonley, who has been studying it for years, alongside the evolution of the alt-Right.

Technically, the Council of Europe says it covers: "All forms of expression that spread, incite, promote, or justify racial hatred, xenophobic, anti-Semitism, or other forms of hatred based on intolerance."

Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley wants to see a public debate about hate speech, and social media platforms held to account.

In New Zealand, many argue the laws are not specific enough.

The main legislation covering "hate speech" is the Human Rights Act (HRA) and the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA).

Section 61 of the HRA prohibits the "incitement of disharmony" on the basis of race, ethnicity, colour or national origins. But the HRC has long called for its review, saying it has major omissions – currently, it doesn't not cover hate for reasons of religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

The HRA is a civil law, not a criminal one. Cases can be resolved through mediation or taken to the Human Rights Review Tribunal – but with a current backlog of cases, this would be lucky to be heard within two years.

And the threshold is high. The most recent high-profile case concerned controversial cartoons published in The Press and The Marlborough Express in 2013, which featured negative depictions of Maori and Pacific people.

MP Louisa Wall complained the cartoons, which portrayed Maori and Pacific as welfare bludgers and negligent parents, were "insulting and ignorant put-downs."

The tribunal ruled while the cartoons may have "offended, insulted or even angered", they were "not likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons in New Zealand on the ground of their colour, race, or ethnic or national origins". Wall also lost a 2017 High Court appeal.

Hate speech is also restricted by the Harmful Digital Communications Act, which made cyber abuse a crime in 2015. For a successful prosecution, it has to be argued the material caused serious emotional distress to the victim.

This means comments like those made by rugby superstar Israel Folau - who posted on Instagram that hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars and fornicators" among others unless they repent – would fall short of breaking the law.

"It's pretty offensive to much of the population, but that in and of itself is not an offence," Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker says. "We would prefer if people weren't offensive, but we wouldn't expect to see them prosecuted for it. We would expect to see them prosecuted for causing harm. We need to have thresholds that are consistent and enforceable, and it is important to protect free speech."

While critics say "serious emotional distress" is too high a threshold, Cocker says the law is operating "pretty much as we hoped it would." Netsafe deals with complaints that are not prosecuted, through mediation and helping the victim to have the content removed by a court order.

"It's giving people a service they can access that is massively effective, and police are making prosecutions under the act."

'You have to ask, is it even working?'

Spoonley says the wording of our HRA is generally considered to be world-leading. The main issues are the omission of religious identity, disability, and gender and sexuality from Section 61. "It needs to be extended to other victims of hate speech."

There are also questions about how useful it is in practice.The fact that the last successful prosecution under the act was in the late 1970s – for two neo-Nazis who were distributing anti-Semitic materials – suggests it's rarely used, Spoonley says.

"You have to ask, is it even working?

"Our free speech environment is very permissive, which is partly because we haven't really experienced the politics of the far right."

Spoonley would like to see a debate about expanding Section 61 and whether the current legal framework is up to task, what the severity test is, and who makes the decisions.

"I do think the severity threshold needs to be quite high, you don't want people who are offended to be laying complaints all the time."

This is a concern promoted by proponents of free speech, like ACT MP David Seymour. He says the idea of any more restrictive laws are "terrifying" for democracy.

"Freedom of speech is a value in itself, being able to freely express ourselves is what it means to be human. Not only does it have an intrinsic value, but it has a practical value in that it allows us to solve problems and think of other ways to do things.

"When you think of social movements – how would feminism have happened if we didn't have freedom of expression? And how do you define hate – are you not allowed to say things that other people find offensive?"

Both Seymour and Spoonley point out we already have all kinds of limitations on speech – defamation laws, the HDCA, and industry bodies like the Media Council and the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

But while Seymour considers these to be more than enough, Spoonley says it makes no sense to leave hate-fuelled discrimination out of the conversation. "I'm puzzled as to why race and religion should be treated any differently."

Spoonley would also like to see social media platforms held to account.

In Germany, which has experienced the rise of hateful ideas, there are strict regulations – a law introduced in 2018 requires Facebook and Twitter to remove "obviously illegal" hate speech from its sites within 24 hours of notification or they can be fined up to €50 million ($84m).

"As a country, we are only really starting to think about what we require of these platforms."

In the coming months, the Ministry of Justice will report back to Little on what might need to change.

The details remain murky, but in the aftermath of March 15, hate speech is now clearly back on the agenda.


United Kingdom

British Police Are Raising Their Voices Against the Drug War

by John Cross

Police are very, very good at catching drug dealers, but that's part of the problem,” says Neil Woods, a former undercover drugs detective who is now the chair of Law Enforcement Action Partnership UK (LEAP UK). “Police never reduce the size of the market, but they do change the shape of it.”

Law enforcement ranks here in the UK are increasingly voicing their dissatisfaction with having to police the so-called War on Drugs—in the face of all available evidence about its outcomes and despite our children being caught in the crosshairs.

Yet lurid misallocations of blame are splashed across our newspapers every day. Faced with the all-too-real British problem of rising knife crime among young people, Cressida Dick, London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner, claimed recently that middle-class cocaine users are partly to blame for drug trade-related stabbings and murders, and have “blood on their hands.” Meanwhile “county lines” networks exploit thousands of children, sometimes as young as 11, to transport and sell illicit drugs in rural towns many miles away from their homes and families.

It may make simplistic sense to blame people who use drugs for drug-related violence and exploitation: Without demand there would be no dealers, no gangs, no drugs, goes the logic. Why should police take any responsibility? They are law enforcers, after all, not lawmakers.

Fortunately, growing numbers of police and members of the public are seeing through this. In an article published by Police Insight, Woods argues that drugs policing itself has shaped—for the worse—the landscape in which we now find ourselves.

Many officers privately share the view that hours of diligent policing have a negligible impact on illicit markets and do little to stem associated violence.

He points out that policing incentivizes the recruitment of children into drugs gangs to act as a buffer between police and adult dealers, reducing dealers' risks. He argues, too, that while sizeable drug seizures make great fodder for police communications teams on social media, they do not actually make our streets any safer. The reverse, in fact, is often true: An arrest of a drug dealer at any level creates a power vacuum that sees violent crime increase “as the newly emerged business opportunity is fought over.”

By failing to reduce crime and, arguably, directly encouraging its growth, Woods contends that our harmful response to illegal drugs breaches the very foundations of modern policing, as set out by Sir Robert Peel in his famous Principles.

Woods, who has written for Filter about the severe psychological impact on many police who are required to fight the drug war, reports that many officers privately share the view that hours and hours of diligent policing have a negligible impact on illicit markets and do little to stem associated violence. This groundswell of police opinion was demonstrated by a summer 2018 statement from the Police Federation of England and Wales, calling for a “public debate” on the future of drugs legislation.

So, if police already know they are not winning the battle to reduce drug-related crime, what else are they doing about it?

Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP*) is an international organization of former and serving police and law enforcement professionals who advocate for policies to reduce drug harms. We support the legal regulation of all drugs to take control of the illicit industry, allowing its beneficial regulation by governments and public health professionals.

Campaigning under the banner of LEAP UK, our British chapter of the global NGO includes such notable figures as retired Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse — who co-authored a British Medical Journal article which in turn led the BMJ in making its own editorial call for the full regulation of drugs — as well as former MI5 Intelligence Officer Annie Machon, and the current Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Arfon Jones. Add to this list an EU “Drugs Tzar” and military personnel and police officers of every rank from Special Constable to Chief Constable, and you begin to see the caliber and experience of an organization whose members fought the War on Drugs and came to know its futility.

Taking the Message Global

In March, LEAP partnered with the Centre for Law Enforcement & Public Health (CLEPH) to deliver a statement to the UN's 62nd Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna. The Police Statement of Support for Drug Policy Reform calls for “more humane drug policies” to replace laws that have led to mass incarceration in countries like the US and countless human rights abuses, including extra-judicial killings, by many governments in other parts of the world.

The statement was delivered by Neil Woods, Suzanne Sharkey, a former undercover operative and now vice-chair of LEAP UK, Peter Muyshondt, Chief of Police for Antwerp Lokale Politie, and serving Police and Crime Commissioner of Durham, Ron Hogg. They all believe that drug policing unfairly targets some of the most vulnerable in our society, leaving many unable to gain access to health, social and welfare programs.

Decriminalization and, ultimately, legal regulation would dramatically shrink the illicit market, the statement notes, “thereby reducing corruption, economic costs and health harms.”

Expectations had been raised for a shift in position from the CND towards a more public health-focused Global Drugs Strategy; in January, the UN's Chief Executives Board, representing 31 agencies including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), adopted a common position on drug policy that endorses decriminalization of personal possession and use. Although the many countries participating in the CND session were not able to reach agreement to endorse that shift, there were positive takeaways and hope remains strong for future reform.

Very few communities anywhere in the world are untouched by the ravages of the drug war.

An estimated $100 billion is spent each year on the global enforcement of drug prohibition. Can police, who are trained to follow evidence, honestly say this is money well spent?

Drugs are still freely available in most communities. Drug-related deaths continue to soar in numbers that directly correlate to the draconian depths of a country's drug laws. Organized crime groups have become so rich that they can destabilize entire governments. Very few communities anywhere in the world are untouched by the ravages of the drug war—and the millions of casualties include drug users whose health is threatened by unregulated supplies, victims of violent crime, and victims of the harsh enforcement and human rights abuses that are ostensibly meant to shut down illicit markets but obviously fail to do so.

The Police Statement of Support for Drug Policy Reform is a clarion call to law enforcement and politicians everywhere to stand up for communities by speaking out against a war on people that should never have been fought.


Los Angeles

Relationship Policing Applauded as a Crime-Fighting Tool In LA

by Adrienne Alpert

A comprehensive crime-fighting approach through relationship policing and the Community Safety Partnership was discussed on Eyewitness Newsmakers.

Program guests were L.A. District 8 City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, LAPD Commander Gerald Woodyard of the Community Engagement Group, and Skipp Townsend, co-founder and executive director of 2nd Call, a gang intervention non-profit. The three gave their views on reducing crime after the reported increase in violent crime and the shooting death of rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle in South Los Angeles.

The councilman pointed out that there was an increase in violent crime over the last month, crime numbers are still at a 50-year low. He applauded police Chief Michel Moore for finding the trend after just seven days, saying historically, it takes weeks and months to get statistical data. It has not revealed any definite links among the shootings. Authorities say they see no indication of gang wars. Gangs from the area called for a truce after the Hussle shooting, the first in 27 years.

Harris-Dawson supports the LAPD backing off on predictive policing to try to anticipate crime hot spots. He said it leads to racial profiling.

"Racial profiling has been demonstrated the world over to not work," he said. He called it a shortcut, saying the way for police to know what's going on is to know the fabric of the community.

Cmdr. Woodyard explained that is the goal of the Community Safety Partnership's relationship policing.

"We've embedded a sergeant and 10 officers in a community. Their sole responsibility is to engage the community in a different way," he said. It's a five-year commitment, and officers consider it a promotion, according to Woodyard, who said, "If you look at the officers we select, they come from this community, they care." He said the overall number of homicides is 26, down from 29 this time last year, despite the recent increase.

Gang intervention expert Townsend said they don't look first to graffiti for signs of trouble among gangs.

"That's the last straw, what happens first is social media." He said they look at Facebook and Instagram and other social media because "anybody can be the toughest guy behind the computer screen."

2nd Call, which is an acronym for Second Chance at a Loving Life, also helps parolees find "good middle-class careers" in the trades through apprenticeships, after applicants learn to live a healthy life.


Arts | Books

Kill the black one first

by Sabo Kpade

In the closing pages of his instructive biography, “Kill The Black One First”, Michael Fuller, 60, is asked by an archivist: “May I ask what you have done with your life?”

“At 16 I became a police cadet” said Fuller, “at 45 I was chief constable of Kent. I've got a degree, two masters, three further postgraduate qualifications and three honorary doctorates. By the time I left the police force, I was qualified as a barrister and then I became Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service.”

The summary of his achievements above is found in the closing pages of his biography “Kill The Black One First”, an appropriately charged title for one man's revealing account of personal triumph and experience of policing history and race relations. Born in 1959 to Jamaican parents from the UK's “wind rush generation”, Fuller rose, in 2010, to become Britain's first ever chief black constable, the highest rank in the force outside London city.

The young Michael was raised in a care home after his parents separated and his mother returned to Jamaica, unable to support herself in London. He continued to have a relationship with his father that warmed and strengthened over time but was at first, and often, a source of confusion.

Fuller attributes much of his character to “Auntie Margaret”, the young, British woman who ran “Fairmile Hatch” as the care home in Crawley, a town in south-west England, was called. She encouraged his childhood fascination with police work but when she passed after a cancer diagnosis at 32 – just before she could see him begin life as a police cadet – the young Michael was devastated.

The adult Michael may attribute much of his moral constitution to “Auntie Margaret” but it would seem even she was in awe of the young Michael who, as a preteen, made unaccompanied annual trips from England to France, to holiday with a pen friend. For this reason, while other students were given academic subjects to work on, the young Michael was made to give a talk to his class on “self-reliance,” a quality that was to serve him for life.

The young Michael's self-belief would seem to be operated by an internal mechanism that could be the combination of any number of factors that may include early separation of parents and the feelings of rejection it instils, acclimatizing to new people and cultures, his ease with academic pursuits, the racism he's endured, the genuine love shown by his white care-giver and his allegiance to his black community – as far as he had one. In another individual, this same set of factors could deplete self-esteem and induce resentment that could overwhelmed and eventually crush. So what is it about “Michael Fuller” that has ensured a laudable career and loving family? The answer is often clear but not always conclusive.

Certain policy measures introduced by Fuller, at different points in his career, has brought results that may not be reflected in the recent swell of killings of young black men in the UK. “Perhaps it took a black officer to see what was necessary and do it” said Fuller upon realising that the many murders were often poorly investigated, on the assumption that they were all criminals but “from now on we would go into black communities ask questions, find witnesses, pinpoint killers and carry out the armed raids necessary to arrest them.”

Fuller's other policing successes include the installation of CCTV in interrogation rooms which speedily reduced the number of complaints for unfair or brutal treatment brought against the police; he proposed the “Racial and Violent Crime Taskforce”; he effected a Burglary Control Program; and he was the first chair of the “Black and Asian Police Officers Association”. How much of these could have been achieved, with any success, if there weren't black officers advocating and executing these measures?

Two different but related events bring emotional catharsis and symbolise triumph as much for Fuller, as for the reader. His father, his friends and family were nervous of the young Michael's resolve to join the force. But his father attended his graduation in the mid-70s and in Fuller's own words: “there is an old video of him almost bursting with pride and wearing an ear-to-ear smile”.

During a march by the National Black Police Association in a city called Bristol that was also a memorial for the black officers who died on duty, huge numbers of black people turned up to honour the entire contingent which Fuller recounts with pride and some vindication: “I had spent years trying to involve the black communities in our work and persuading officers criminality cannot be assumed from skin colour. I had challenged prejudice and aspired to build genuine trust and community confidence wherever I had worked. As I watched the crowds enthusiastically cheering us, I now felt our contributions was finally being recognised. For the first time in my career I felt kinship and a sense of belonging. It gave me great hope for the future.



Towards reforming Nigeria's Policing System

by Kehinde Akinfenwa

Since 1999, the problem of public security is perhaps the most eminent challenge to Nigeria's democracy. Following years of military incarceration and civil uprising, the nation has been confronted with the challenge of reviving and rebuilding its depleted civil institutions as lack of viable security structure has given rise to huge range of criminal activities.

The primary institution in the front line of combating these challenges is the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) which according to the constitution has exclusive jurisdiction to protect lives and properties by fighting crime and maintaining law and order. But regrettably, of all public institutions whose record of ineptitude is prominent across the country, the Nigeria Police Force remains a customary point of reference. There is no crime that is alien to the police force, from extortion to rape to murder to kidnapping, to conspiracy; they are never far away from any atrocities one can think of. An average police officer is perceived more as a merchant of oppression than the protector of law and order with penchant to commit crime than to prevent it. Pitifully, these uncivilized demeanours are well acknowledged even within the force fraternity.

Upon assuming command in February 2012, the former Inspector General, Mohammed D. Abubakar, sordidly affirmed thus: “The Nigeria Police Force has fallen to its lowest level and has, indeed, become a subject of ridicule within the law enforcement community and among members of the enlarged public. Police duties have become commercialized. Our men are deployed to rich individuals and corporate entities such that we lack manpower to provide security for the common man. Our investigations departments cannot equitably handle matters unless those involved have money to part with. Complainants suddenly become suspects at different investigation levels following spurious petitions filed with the connivance of police officers. Our police stations, State CID and operations offices have become business centres and collection points for rendering returns from all kinds of Squads and Teams set up for the benefit of superior officers. Our Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) have become killer teams, engaging in deals for land speculators and debt collection. Toll stations in the name of check-points adorn our highways with policemen shamelessly collecting money from motorists in the full glare of the public.”

Sadly, all these unruly acts have witnessed an upward trajectory in recent years. According to Segun Adeniyi, what we have now are assassins in police uniform who are passionate to dispense bullets on innocent citizens. The quantum of impunity that exudes in the policing system is capable of instigating civil revolt as such dastardly experiences are becoming unbearable. It is rather disheartening that the force has plummeted from being one of the pillars of grace and service to a cathedral of dishonesty as it is fast becoming a citadel of illegality and institutional dissipation.

However, we will be hallucinating not to admit that this perplexing situation is the product of the infirmity in our nation. The endemic maladministration in governance has been a springboard to the menace of this institution. Criminogenic problems like unemployment, poor education and ethnic tensions have significant implications for social disorder and crime as the force struggles to contend with the realities of the emerging security challenges. It is absurd that a 21st century police force is still battling with mundane challenges of improper training and skills, inadequate work force, lack of modern gadgets, political intrusion, poor working conditions, incompetence,poor remuneration, to mention a few.

In this worsening economic condition, the reality is that Nigerians are becoming more desperate to survive. The vast rate of armed muggings, burglaries, homicide, road-block robberies and armed break-ins, local and international swindles, kidnapping, terrorism, hooliganism, militancy, drug peddling and the likes are the outgrowth of our unconscious society. Lamentably, however, the security structure of the country is a shadow of itself; the police institution presently can never ensure effective security as it commands only about 371,800 official personnel out of which over 70 percent are providing personal security for prominent individuals. In a nation whose estimated population stands above 190 million with its incumbent socio-economic and cultural problems, having an underfunded, ill-equipped and understaffed policing system is already an infatuation to lawless society.

Globally, the potent parameters used to assess the proficiency and effectiveness of any police force is to consider its ability to fight crime, resources at its disposal, equipment and apparatus available to it in the discharge of its duties, fewest shots fired by them in a year and fewest persons beaten, shot and killed, strides taken in public protection and its efforts towards the protection of vulnerable persons.

The Nigerian Police Force is in dire need of fundamental reforms where its operational and intelligent structure will be engaged in contemporary discourse. Policing is today a multi-faceted phenomenon where the responsibility of the state and the right of citizenry are effectively managed. This has brought about an instigating shift from the traditional model of law enforcing to crime preventing and community safety in order to play a key part in the renewal of social democratic level.

Referencing the Police Reform Bill which has just passed second reading in the National Assembly, modernizing the institution towards aligning with global practice is a logical step in the rebuilding process. But for it not to be a mere cosmetic proposition, there is compelling need to address the organic disorder that is abetting the viscous abuse that has characterized the law enforcement agency. The police force is a service to humanity but the sordid reality in this part of the world is that many of those individuals adorning our force attire have taken up the responsibility by default, thereby lacking the right attitude and the needed character that dignifies the profession worldwide.

Therefore, the nucleus of the proposed reforms should be on recharging the rectitude of policing system by calling to the fore the patriotic value and heroic human quality that must always secrete from adorning the police uniform. In ensuring the system is amenable to 21st century codes of policing; officers must be trained to think beyond the gun-belt in their attempt to build a crime-free society. Building an affable and emblazon policing system requires ardent involvement of every sector of the society because public security is a symbiotic project that promotes socio-economic development. Hence, as individuals, organizations, groups, communities we must establish a participatory platform on social security through which we can hold the police force accountable for their action against the society.That patriotic, responsible, selfless, incorruptible, committed and courageous police officer we all desire is an invention of shared responsibility. God bless Nigeria.


South Africa

Murder rates in 2019 are much lower than 1994, even if it doesn't feel that way

by Rebecca Davis

April 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of South Africa's official transition to democracy. Twenty-five years into the democratic era, we look at how far we've come and how far we still have to go. In the final article of this series, the issue being considered is safety and security. While there's a perception among some circles that crime rates have drastically risen since 1994, this isn't the whole picture.

The early days of democracy in South Africa, suggested Nelson Mandela's grandson Zwelivelile Mandela in a 2019 Freedom Day statement, were not “a picturesque scene by any stretch of the imagination”.

Mandela continued: “The reality is that back in 1994 we had a country ravaged by centuries of land alienation, plundering of mineral wealth, rampant corruption, pillage and trauma; a society teetering on the brink of civil war, an apartheid debt of 270 billion US dollars, a fiscus that was effectively bankrupt and unprecedented levels of poverty and inequality”.

One aspect of South Africa in 1994 that is often neglected amid the triumphalism that accompanied the transition to democracy is how violent the country was at that time.

“What people don't realise is that our murder rate has almost halved since 1994,” the Institute for Security Studies' Gareth Newham told Daily Maverick.

“There were 66,9 murders per 100 000 people in 1994. By 2012 it had dropped to 30 murders per 100 000 people. So in fact, in terms of the risk of being murdered, South Africa became a much safer place to live.”

The reason why many policing and crime analysts focus on murder to assess the general safety of a country is because murder statistics tend to be the most reliable. Compared to other categories of crime which are often under-reported – such as sexual violence – murder tends to be relatively well-documented due to the tangible evidence of a body.

But looking only at murder statistics does not present a full picture of the national crime situation – or explain why surveys repeatedly show that South Africans feel increasingly unsafe. The 2018 Gallup Law and Order report found, in fact, that the South Africans surveyed felt their country was more unsafe than did the inhabitants of Palestine and Libya.

Newham suggests that one reason why the white middle classes initially perceived crime rates to be spiking post-1994 was, simply, that they were unused to a more equal distribution of police resources.

“In 1994, 74% of police resources were allocated to policing the white population. When police were suddenly allocated to serve everybody, the middle classes started feeling less protected by the police. That drove the sense that crime was going up, but we were actually getting safer.”

At the same time, however, activists have continually pointed out that democratic South Africa has continued to unequally deploy police resources in areas like Cape Town. The Social Justice Coalition's Dalli Weyers told Daily Maverick that SAPS has failed to “sufficiently rectify apartheid-era police resource allocations.

The result, Weyers says, is that “despite having a good police-to-population ratio by global standards, police in South Africa have not been – and are not – where they are actually needed, and where crime happens. This has meant crime detection levels and conviction rates have been low and this has contributed to a degree of impunity from perpetrators”.

Although the initial post-apartheid crime trajectory was positive, crime rates almost across the board started to rise from around 2012 – a spike Newham attributes in large measure to “the years of political interference starting to have a really negative effect on the criminal justice system and the police”.

As a result of political appointments to the top echelons of crime intelligence and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), both bodies lapsed into dysfunction. This breakdown in police and intelligence saw a very large increase in armed robbery, says Newham, and also in violent organised crime.

Newham describes what happened over the last decade as “the wilful destruction of the criminal justice sector by the former president and his cronies”.

There were other, more local, events which also contributed to the rise in crime over the last ten years.

“Generally post-conflict societies see a stabilisation of violent crime rates after 10 to 15 years,” says Weyers.

“For a while, it seemed this would apply to a post-apartheid South Africa. Unfortunately, in Cape Town the move towards stabilisation was undermined by the introduction of around 2000 illegal guns on to the streets, stolen from police stores by [former police colonel Christiaan] Prinsloo and his associates, in 2009.”

The incident Weyers is referring to here was the theft of firearms kept in police custody in Gauteng by Christiaan Prinsloo. Many of these guns are believed to have ended up in the hands of gangs on the Cape Flats. In court papers lodged in 2016, Major General Jeremy Vearey said that 888 of the 2000 firearms stolen by Prinsloo had been forensically linked to 1066 murders in the Western Cape – including the murders of 89 children.

The fact that it was the residents of the impoverished Cape Flats who suffered most from this influx of firearms is entirely typical of the wider crime situation of democratic South Africa.

“Extreme violent crime and murder in South Africa remain localised,” says Weyers.

“It occurs most often between young black men, with limited economic opportunities, in poor, working-class communities. The fact that these communities, especially in South Africa's metros, are densely populated, receive limited services, and are often still lit with ineffective apartheid-era lighting-for-surveillance rather than lighting for safety adds to their volatility.”

The point that crime cannot be separated from other social conditions is one strongly stressed by Newham, who says the South African government is “still not addressing the factors whereby people become criminals in the first place”. These factors include the early exposure of children to violence, household disposable income levels and unemployment.

Says Newham: “If you focus only on criminal justice and don't address all these other factors, you don't reduce crime. Nowhere in the world has this worked.”

In fact, Newham suggests that a more effective use of state resources in combating crime would be to “stop throwing our money into the criminal justice system” and hire more social workers – to make sure that “greater numbers of children are growing up in environments of safety”.

For those feeling generally disillusioned about the state of South Africa in 2019 compared to its early democratic promise, Zwelivelile Mandela's 2019 Freedom Day message urges the country to look on the bright side.

“If the doomsayers and the opposition parties had their way, we would believe South Africa to be the worst place under the sun,” Mandela writes.

“Except they're all still here and enjoying the freedom, liberty and dignity accorded to them by undoubtedly one of the finest Constitutions in the world. Let us not forget about the rugby, shisanyama, sunny-skies and amagusheshe in a corner car wash.”



Experts grapple with ways to end police shootings

by Clare Dignan

Two police officers shot at a young black couple, wounding a woman.

Days of protests have followed.

In the wake of the officer-involved shooting April 16, during which Hamden police officer Devin Eaton and Yale University officer Terrance Pollock opened fire on a vehicle stopped near Dixwell Avenue and Argyle Street in New Haven around 4:20 a.m., organizers have demanded justice for the couple in the car: Stephanie Washington, 22, and Paul Witherspoon III, 21.

Protests against police shootings have become routine after such incidents and promises from officials to focus on community policing get repeated. But even after communities cry “never again” and officers undergo more training, people turn to face another incident.

“Training is wonderful and all of that's important but in a real life situation it is difficult to predict what will happen,” said Khalilah Brown-Dean, Quinnipiac University associate professor of political science. “What we're seeing is how people see a threat.”

Since the shooting, people have protested almost daily against the practices of the Hamden and Yale police departments, but there's no simple answer as to why the shooting happened.

“When people ask why did it happen, the response is it doesn't happen in every community,” said Don Sawyer, Quinnipiac University's associate vice president and chief diversity officer. “People talk about how it wouldn't happen in a more affluent neighborhood and one could argue that the economics of that neighborhood colors the way policing happens in that neighborhood. There seems to be a lack of political power and resources in those areas and that's some of the conflict we see.”

Further, John DeCarlo, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven and former Branford police chief, said, “We are talking about why police shoot people and it's because they have guns.”

“It's a complicated situation because we're America and we live in a gun culture,” DeCarlo said.

He said chances are the United States is never going to repeal the Second Amendment, so policy makers, police and communities have to learn how to live with it.

The Error in Training

While the April 16 shooting took place in New Haven after a reported armed robbery at a Hamden gas station/convenience store, it turned out no gun was found in the car Witherspoon and Washington were in, and that the store clerk who reported seeing a gun in a 911 call later retracted that statement when speaking to state police detectives. Witherspoon has not been charged and told police he made no threats at the store.

State Police have said the officers fired after Witherspoon exited the vehicle “abruptly” and turned toward them.

The body-camera footage appears to show Witherspoon start to exit the car with at least one hand up, then duck back inside as shots are fired.

“What happened was a study in error,” DeCarlo said. “There are a lot of things that happen really quickly. We often think that police are expert marksmen, and that's not true and they're not trained nearly enough to decipher these situations.”

Connecticut's only mandated police training requirement is for officers to get 60 hours of training every three years, DeCarlo said, and most of the training police receive is to reduce litigation, not policing errors.

“We're training them in things they need to get out on the street, but not everything they could use,” he said. “If you want better cops, you have to train them better. We as a society have to own up and train them better by professionalizing them more.”

While more training in anything is helpful, DeCarlo said more social training, more cultural training is critical so officers understand the different populations and communities they're working in. And while there might be a call for racial sensitivity training after a shooting, it's not systemic enough, he said.

Countless professions require college degrees and even advanced degrees for someone to be hired and be expected to do their job well, but not cops, DeCarlo said. The difference between an officer and any other profession, though, is cops are the only members of society that can take one's freedom away or have the authority to shoot somebody, he said.

“If we're going to give police that responsibility, we have to give them commensurate training,” he said.

The U.S. has 18,000 police departments across the country. By comparison, Great Britain, which requires police officers to have a college degree, has only 47. Each department in the U.S. is funded on a local level with no national dissemination of training or funding, DeCarlo said.

“It's hard to make change and own up and change the system when it's decentralized,” he said. “Until we come to a collective agreement and how we want them to police, we're going to face a lot of ‘sentinel' events.”

The obstacle is funding.

While the University of New Haven offers a degree in police science, a graduate isn't then a certified police officer until they go through the police academy. But the state and local jurisdictions don't get much extra money for police training. The biggest cost in police service is salaries, benefits and basic equipment, DeCarlo said.

With more officer education, though, the country might see fewer incidents of police profiling, acting defensively or out of fear.

“Education makes us better people, more understanding people and makes us make better decisions based on fact and less on fear,” he said.

Implicit bias

Rhonda Caldwell has been marching and rallying with organizers since the day after the shooting. “Social justice advocate” isn't on her resume, but it's a role she takes on every day for her community on social media, she said. Caldwell is one of those organizers who was stunned after watching the body camera footage.

“I'm still in shock from it and I just want to be involved in whatever I can to get this investigation and see policy changes,” she said.

As Caldwell, a woman of color, has been posting to Facebook about the movement and organizers' demands for an independent investigation, she's been met with insulting comments accusing her of using the “race card” as a tactic, with commenters arguing that because the officers involved were black, the incident is not a racial issue.

“It's about a person of authority shooting a person,” she said. “We have people saying that it wasn't an issue of race, but I've never heard of those things happening in neighborhoods like Spring Glen (a majority white neighborhood in Hamden). You're socializing this thing. You can't turn it off, no matter what color you are.”

Quinnipiac's Sawyer said nobody is immune to implicit bias.

“In systems of inequality that are set up with internalized racism, it doesn't matter who the actor is,” Sawyer said. “Moving the white officer out and inserting a Latino officer doesn't make a difference because they're still socialized and conditioned in a certain way.”

The way many are conditioned by media and popular culture is to see black and Latino men as a threat, he said.

“The police officers are not immune,” Sawyer said. “The difference is I don't have the right to kill somebody and I'm not walking around armed. The impact of the images we see are not played out the same way as an armed police officer — it's life or death. We see that playing out in the way different populations are policed.”

Brown-Dean said if people are socialized to think people of color are violent or that certain communities are breaking the law, they internalize that, adding that research shows black officers are more punitive because they know they have to work against those stigmas.

Stephen K. Rice and former King County, Washington Sheriff Sue Rahr wrote “From Warriors to Guardians: Recommitting American Police Culture to Democratic Ideals” in 2015 described modern policing as a police-against-the-people operation.

“In some communities, the friendly neighborhood beat cop — community guardian —has been replaced with the urban warrior, trained for battle and equipped with the accouterments and weaponry of modern warfare. Armed with sophisticated technology to mine data about crime trends, officers can lose sight of the value of building close community ties,” they wrote.

DeCarlo said the militarization of police is the opposite of what officers should aim to be.

“We don't have enemies, we have communities,” he said.

Despite three decades of falling crime rates, public trust in police has remain generally unchanged, according to Rice and Rahr.

The Right Training = Education

Community members have said what's needed is education for officers around their implicit biases. But it's not a cure-all for policing issues.

“One misconception is that someone can take a 60-minute training and they'll be cured,” Sawyer said. “Implicit bias training is not a vaccine.”

He said one semester or course doesn't necessarily change what a person has been hearing their entire life.

“One training isn't going to change it,” he said “It's going to take a systemic approach. It has to be a series of interactions and classes. The idea of community policing is that you're present in those communities when trouble isn't happening. Without that, people tend to see police in their communities as those who aren't there to protect and serve.”

DeCarlo said requiring every police officer to go to college may not be realistic and could limit the diversity of people joining the force, but giving extended college level training to anyone looking for a leadership positions should be the goal so that the approach to policing changes.

“Us evolving the police training the way we have has wrought what we're getting,” he said. “Cops are often very dedicated people, but we can't send them without the training or adequate tools.”

Moving forward

Despite the ever-present call to have conversations about structural change, Brown-Dean said they haven't truly happened yet.

“We have to be more specific,” she said “What are we demanding? What kinds of procedural steps do we need?”

Hamden Councilman Justin Farmer, D-5, whose district borders where Washington and Witherspoon were fired upon, said it's the fact that the conversations haven't happened is why the shootings continue. But now is the perfect time to talk about structural change.

“I hope we use that to talk about mental health in policing, juvenile justice, rehabilitation, job security, economic development and revitalization,” he said. “Any time these situations happen it's a great way to gather all stakeholders on how we can create a more perfect union.”

Brown-Dean said the only training people don't need more of is what to do when young people get pulled over.

“What we're doing with that is misplacing the responsibility,” she said. “Even when people respond in that textbook way — immediately put hands in the air — that's not protecting us."



After spate of police shootings, Vallejo, California, officials ask for DOJ help

The call for federal intervention comes after a tense City Council meeting this week that highlighted issues of policing, particularly within the city's minority community.

by Erik Ortiz

Officials in the California city where police fatally shot a young rapper inside his car in February are now asking the Department of Justice to step in and help improve relations between officers and the public.

"Having strength is knowing when to ask for help and that time is now," Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said in a statement Friday. "I welcome the wisdom and insights of the DOJ Community Relations Service to improve our police department and assist in elevating the level of community engagement with our residents."

The call for federal intervention comes after a tense City Council meeting this week that focused on issues of policing, particularly within the city's minority community, and a report this month by NBC News that highlighted complaints of alleged aggressive policing and the police-involved shooting of black rapper Willie McCoy as the 16th death involving Vallejo police officers since 2011.

The majority of those killed by the police in Vallejo have been black and Latino men, police records show. The Bay Area city, with a population of 122,000, remains evenly divided among white, black, Latino and Asian residents.

In San Francisco, with a population more than seven times Vallejo's, the police department has been involved in 22 fatal shootings since 2011.

Vallejo officials said City Manager Greg Nyhoff has formally invited the Department of Justice's Community Relations Service to help the city.

"Mayor Sampayan and City Manager Nyhoff have been in communication with DOJ representatives and will be coordinating a community engagement plan with the experts," the city said in a news release.

The DOJ could not immediately be reached for comment.

It would not be the first time the city has asked for help from federal authorities.

The city in 2013 worked with federal mediators from the Community Relations Service to ease tension between residents and the police department after officers fatally shot a man who had a pellet gun inside his car. That partnership led to the formation of a community relations section within the department.

Nyhoff said in a statement Friday that "elected leaders and City staff are committed to improvements on all fronts in the City of Vallejo, and that includes a cooperative and constructive relationship with the very community that we serve."

While the Community Relations Service assists in "improving community and police relations," advocates of police reform in Vallejo note that it is "not an investigatory or prosecutorial agency, and it does not have any law enforcement authority."

At a City Council meeting Tuesday, residents complained that city officials had not listened to them and family members of loved ones who died in police-involved shootings and implored officials to take action.

"If it was your son, if it was your son, how would you feel? Would you want justice?" asked David Harrison, the cousin of McCoy, who was 20 and went by the stage name Willie Bo.

"You got to hear us," he told the council. "You know why? Because we aren't going anywhere."


Dept of Justice

DOJ Focuses on Nation's LEO's Mental Health: 11 Case Studies

by Tammy Waitt

"A damaging national narrative has emerged in which law enforcement officers – whether federal, state, local, or tribal – are seen not as protectors of communities but as oppressors," explains COPS Office Director Phil Keith.“In this environment, where an inherently stressful job is made more so by a constant undercurrent of distrust and negative public opinion, the risks to officer wellness are exacerbated."

“The mental well-being of the men and women who serve and protect our communities is every bit as important as their physical health and safety.”

“Our nation's law enforcement officers—and their civilian colleagues—hear and see things every day that most of us are fortunate we never have to imagine.

“The current national climate of distrust in law enforcement and lack of sympathy or fairness for them before the facts are known makes an already difficult and dangerous job mentally and emotionally stressful as well.”

“The continuous attacks without knowing the facts could be an underlying variable to one of the most compelling challenges in law enforcement—hiring and retention—and in general could contribute to low morale in many agencies.” – Courtesy of Phil Keith, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (Cops)

The Department of Justice has released two complementary reports which focus on the mental health and safety of the nation's 800,000 federal, state, local and tribal police officers.

The new reports, titled: Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act: Report to Congress and Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Programs: Eleven Case Studies, were published by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) as required by the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (LEMHWA) of 2017.

Law enforcement agencies need and deserve support in their ongoing efforts to protect the mental health and well-being of their employees, and these actions show that LEMHWA's purpose and intended effects are uncontroversial among policymakers.

Congress took the important step in improving the delivery of and access to mental health and wellness services that will help our nation's more than 800,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers.

“Serving as a law enforcement officer requires courage, strength, and dedication,” Attorney General William P. Barr said.

“The demands of this work, day in and day out, can take a toll on the health and well-being of our officers, but the Department of Justice is committed to doing our part to help.”

“I want to thank the men and women of our COPS office for their hard work to support our officers every day, and specifically for these thoughtful and insightful reports, which detail both the challenges facing our officers and some specific ways we can give them the support that they deserve.”

“A damaging national narrative has emerged in which law enforcement officers – whether federal, state, local, or tribal – are seen not as protectors of communities but as oppressors,” explains COPS Office Director Phil Keith.

“In this environment, where an inherently stressful job is made more so by a constant undercurrent of distrust and negative public opinion, the risks to officer wellness are exacerbated.”

“This report is an important measure and reflection in our ongoing commitment to protect those who protect us. “

Under the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, the COPS Office was required to submit reports to Congress that addressed:

Recommendations to Congress for:

Effectiveness of crisis lines for law enforcement officers

Efficacy of annual mental health checks for law enforcement officers

Expansion of peer mentoring programs, and

Ensuring privacy considerations for these types of programs

Mental health practices and services in the U.S. Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) that could be adopted by federal, state, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies, and

Case studies of programs designed primarily to address officer psychological health and well-being

The first report, Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act: Report to Congress, includes 22 recommendations ranging from supporting programs to embed mental health professionals in law enforcement agencies, to supporting the development of model policies and implementation guidance for law enforcement agencies to make substantial efforts to reduce suicide.

The case studies report, Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Programs: Eleven Case Studies, is designed to provide an overview of multiple successful and promising law enforcement mental health and wellness strategies with the joint aims of informing Congress, state and local government officials, and the law enforcement field.

The report includes 11 case studies from a diverse group of sites across the United States on Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Programs as follows:

Bend Police Department

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department


Dallas Police Department

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Milwaukee Police Department

Metropolitan Nashville Police Department

San Antonio Police Department

Tucson Police Department

The Department of Justice is pleased to respond to the LEMHWA as officer safety, health, and wellness is a longstanding priority of the agency.

The newly released reports address some of the most pressing issues currently facing our law enforcement community.

The COPS Office has a near 25-year history of supporting the efforts of state, local and tribal law enforcement, including the management of the National Blue Alert Network.

The agency awards grants to hire community policing officers, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement.

Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.