Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Matthew Loftus ―The Policing Baltimore Needs

Listen to the community leaders in Sandtown, not the talking heads on CNN.

(The American Conservative
Only a handful of conservatives have much to say about what policing ought to be like (although there is some hope that a Right On Crime approach will continue to find success in practice and support among voters.) Mostly, it seems like conservatives would rather go back to the era of  “zero tolerance” policing under Martin O’Malley, when up to 100,000 arrests in a city of 636,000 people were made, precipitating a successful lawsuit from the NAACP and the ACLU.  Despite costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives, decades after declaring a War on Drugs, it’s fairly safe to say that drugs are winning or have won. (Baltimore, to its credit, has put great effort into a less punitive drug court system that addresses some of this reality.) Conservatives also generally underestimate the degree to which police brutality is systemic, not anecdotal and have yet to commit to any program that holds police accountable. One of my patients who lives in the neighborhood showed me scars from his encounters with the police and described them as a “necessary evil” to keep drug dealers in check—often through stealing drugs or money from them. Stories of corruption are just frequent enough to make any police encounter a roll of the dice—everyone acknowledges that there are good cops who care about justice and will treat you fairly, but you never know if it’s one of them pulling you over.