Race and Policing
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This report, based on a survey commissioned by the Alliance for Safety and Justice and released by the National Coalition for Shared Safety (NCSS), offers a sobering assessment of the U.S. government's failure to help address the major issues that fuel cycles of crime and the lack of safety for people across the country. The report raises serious concerns about current public safety spending that has been dominated by $300 billion spent annually on the criminal justice system. The study also demonstrates wide agreement amongst voters across the political spectrum, and in cities, suburbs and rural areas, on where the nation's public safety budget and policy focus should be shifted.
This report details marijuana arrests from 2010 to 2018 and examines racial disparities at the national, state, and county levels. The report reveals that the racist war on marijuana is far from over. More than six million arrests occurred between 2010 and 2018, and Black people are still more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people in every state, including those that have legalized marijuana. With detailed recommendations for governments and law enforcement agencies, this report provides a detailed road map for ending the War on Marijuana and ensuring legalization efforts center racial justice.
In the wake of high-profile incidents in Ferguson, Staten Island, North Charleston, Baltimore, and elsewhere, law enforcement agencies across the country have rapidly adopted body-worn cameras for their officers. One of the main selling points for these cameras is their potential to provide transparency into some police interactions, and to help protect civil rights, especially in heavily policed communities of color.But accountability is not automatic. Whether these cameras make police more accountable — or simply intensifies police surveillance of communities — depends on how the cameras and footage are used. That's why The Leadership Conference, together with a broad coalition of civil rights, privacy, and media rights groups, developed shared Civil Rights Principles on body-worn Cameras. Our principles emphasize that "[w]ithout carefully crafted policy safeguards in place, there is a real risk that these new devices could become instruments of injustice, rather than tools for accountability."This scorecard evaluates the body-worn camera policies currently in place in major police departments across the country. Our goal is to highlight promising approaches that some departments are taking, and to identify opportunities where departments could improve their policies.
In August 2013, a federal judge found that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had engaged in a widespread practice of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stops and frisks and ordered a collaborative, joint remedial process (JRP) to develop a set of reforms that will help bring the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices into compliance with the Constitution. The judge highlighted the importance of getting this input, writing at the time, "No amount of legal or policing expertise can replace a community's understanding of the likely practical consequences of reforms in terms of both liberty and safety." The JRP ensures that communities who have been directly affected by these practices will have direct input into shaping the future of stop and frisk in New York. The JRP was envisioned to solicit ideas for additional reforms from communities most impacted by stops and frisks. In addition to community stakeholders, the process will involve the City, members of law enforcement, local elected officials, organizations with expertise in policing and criminal justice attorneys representing the plaintiffs. This process echoes a similar process successfully implemented in Cincinnati, Ohio over a decade ago to address systemic abusive and biased policing practices. Guiding this process is the court-appointed Facilitator, Hon. Ariel Belen.
Although the acrimony between communities of color and law enforcement is currently grabbing news headlines, it is an old story with the seeds of discord planted long ago. The intersection of race and policing and the resulting rancor has roots that can be traced back to the origins of the United States. Therefore, understanding this complicated history and its lingering vestiges is key to finding solutions to the very serious problems that continue to fester today.
In 2014, a dedicated activist movement--Black Lives Matter (BLM)--ignited an urgent national conversation about police killings of unarmed Black citizens. Online tools have been anecdotally credited as critical in this effort, but researchers are only beginning to evaluate this claim. This research report examines the movement's uses of online media in 2014 and 2015. To do so, we analyze three types of data: 40.8 million tweets, over 100,000 web links, and 40 interviews of BLM activists and allies.
After hearing numerous complaints of police abuse and misconduct against LGBTQ people in Jackson Heights, Queens, Make the Road New York (with help from the Anti-Violence Project) surveyed over 300 Queens residents about their experiences with police in the neighborhood. The survey findings and individual testimonies reveal a disturbing and systemic pattern of police harassment, violence, and intimidation directed at LGBTQ community members. The discriminatory use of "stop and frisks" in the policing of communities of color has been well documented -- the 110th and 115th precincts that are responsible for policing Jackson Heights had 90%-93% rates of stop and frisk activity towards people of color in 2011. Our survey reveals, however, that within this community LGBTQ people of color are particularly targeted.
In recent years, the Billings Police Department and its leadership have been in the news with reports of accusations of police brutality and misconduct. A study conducted by Montana People's Action (mpa) reveals deeper problems within the police department that lead to distrust and fear among residents of certain parts of the city. The study has found that in the Southside neighborhood, the Police Department is known for racial profiling and discrimination, gender discrimination, mistreatment of domestic violence victims, and demeaning treatment of low-income residents. Surveys comparing the sentiments of residents of the Heights and residents of the Southside uncover two sides of the Billings Police Department – one side that serves and protects the wealthier white residents of the city, another that ignores or abuses their poorer neighbors and people of color.