A plan to end police abuse

The issue of police brutality in the US has become a major issue and I too have been hitting on the issue hard and calling for reforms. But what reforms exactly? Now comes along something called Campaign Zero that has articulated 10 steps that can be taken towards the goal of ending police violence. The graphic giving the names of the 10 steps is below but if you go to the above website, each box is a hyperlink that takes you to a page that gives detailed policy recommendations.

campaign zero

I hope that this takes off and cities are ranked according to how many they adopt and people running for elected office are asked about the extent to which they are willing to support them.

The organizers behind Campaign Zero, who are quick to admit that they do not claim to speak for the entire Black Lives Matter movement, have already reached out to the various presidential campaigns.

Campaign Zero was created by DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett — three of the most prominent activists to emerge during last year’s unrest in Ferguson, Mo. — and Samuel Sinyangwe, a San Francisco-based policy expert.

“We’ve always had demands,” said Mckesson, who shared the proposals with the hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers he has amassed since the protests in Ferguson. He said Campaign Zero has collected those demands made by various activists around the U.S. as police use of force has become a fixture of public debate.

For instance, Elzie said, she scrolled over the Campaign Zero table showing presidential candidates and whether they’d taken a specific stand on the activists’ 10 core issues. The Democratic candidates had many boxes filled in with positions, but the Republicans’ were empty.

“It maps out plain as day who has spoken on what,” Elzie said. “Just looking at this chart, the Republicans have said nothing about anything that remotely affects what’s happening in America right now.”


  1. busterggi says

    Republicans already have a plan to eliminate police violence -- allow the police to kill off all off-white persons.

  2. atheistblog says

    Police killing may reduce, but it never will end, unless you can send police to the streets unarmed. Is that possible in a nation where guns are considered as right, but not voting, not health care. This is an arms race gun culture, no end. There will be hope only after this nation abrogate second amendment.

  3. EigenSprocketUK says

    Re 2: it’s more than ending a 2nd amendment gun-nut culture. In the UK the police are routinely unarmed, and so is the public. The deaths at the direct hands of the police are not zero, but pretty close. However, there’s still an awful lot of people who die after “contact with the police”, meaning deaths in custody, deaths in transit, deaths as a result of inadequate care / trauma, deaths as a result of “unauthorised” restraint techniques. This remains a systemic problem with too little political attention. So don’t imagine that ending the routine carrying of guns is the problem when it’s more to do with the inadequate professionalism of the police and the habitual closing of ranks.

  4. atheistblog says

    Re 3: I turn the table and I can tell you the same, how professionalism you want your police be, most of the police force military are trained, how much you pay more, how much you trained more, how much you teach and recruit more professionalism, as long as guns are there like sand grains nothing gonna change. So don’t imagine that you can wave a magic wand and make police as professional force. Police force is the reflection of authority it represent, so don’t imagine you gonna make police professional without anything you gonna do about cowardly racist bigot authority behind it. So you can keep imagine you gonna make the racist as professionals.

    Oh, now you gonna tell that just trying to make police professional alone not gonna do much, everything have to be included ? , why I am accusing you of only talking about professionalism ? Well, don’t imagine to tell that, it would be called irony, well, who knows all these days, british doesn’t know about irony as well.

  5. says

    Disarming police entirely isn’t a solution either. Sadly, there are the rare occasions in which lethal force is necessary. We need to do a much better job of teaching the polices the difference between ‘this situation requires lethal force’ and ‘this situation involves a minority or someone who isn’t 100% deferential’.

  6. smrnda says

    Ending civil asset forfeiture, the war on drugs, stop and frisk, no know warrants and abolishing quotas should be on the list as well. After all, combine the war on drugs with quotas and ‘stop and frisk’ and you have a reason why so many people are in jail, many of whom weren’t even guilty of anything as cops aren’t above planting drugs on someone (or lying.)

    I’m not even sure police should have unions.

  7. Knight in Sour Armor says

    Police should most certainly not have unions. I normally am pro-union in the sense that I think workers should have some bargaining power in an unequal relationship, but it’s pretty clear here who really has the power, and it’s not civilians. Part of establishing accountability is removing one of the prime forces in thwarting police accountability.

  8. says

    The only thing that will end police violence and criminality is legal consequences. When cops face -- and regularly receive -- severe punishment for the crimes they commit, it will stop. Giving life sentences to the murderers of Tamar Rice and Freddie Gray would be a start.

    If criminals get longer prison sentences when cops are attacked, then why shouldn’t cops get even longer sentences than civilian criminals when the cops are the criminals? They are trained to know the law and are entrusted to obey and uphold it. If any group deserves the most severe punishments for criminal activity, it’s cops, yet they are the least held accountable. Even politicians and lawyers are held to a higher legal standard than cops, and they don’t go around murdering people with impunity.

    As for the sign of how unequal and racist cops are in enforcement within the US, just yesterday a white extremist murdered a cop with a shotgun, taunting the cop as he died. The shooter was arrested without cops using any violence against him. If the shooter were black, it’s very likely he would have been tased, violently beaten, and possibly executed on the spot.


    smrnda (#6)

    Ending civil asset forfeiture,

    Forfeiture of illegally obtained assets after conviction actually makes sense, but the vast majority of “forfeiture” is highway robbery by highwaymen wearing highway patrol uniforms. It’s nothing more than legalized theft and people deemed “guilty until proven innocent”.

  9. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    My simple list of things that could and should happen right now:

    -- Constitutional amendment for a ban on all no-knock warrants. No exceptions, exception in times of invasion or insurrection.

    -- Constitutional amendment to remove all qualified immunity from the police. The police are merely professional bounty hunters paid by a salary, and it’s about time we treated them as such. They need to be more liable to civil and criminal prosecution, not less. Also ban all collective forms of police malfeasance insurance -- if the cops want to get malfeasance insurance, their premiums and costs should be directly tied to their own record of misconduct.

    -- Allow individual citizens to seek grand jury indictments to become criminal prosecutions again. This is the best form of civilian oversight. If you have a case of police misconduct, then there will be a private litigation firm that should want to be your criminal prosecutor in the case, and they’ll be paid by a portion of the awards in case of successful prosecution. The problem is that the state prosecutors are too reliant on the police, and there is no real recourse when cops misbehave and when state prosecutors refuse to indict and prosecute, or when they indict and prosecute in a manner to purposefully avoid conviction.

    -- Raise the standard of detention and arrest to a more reasonable level. you cannot be detained nor arrested unless one of the following is true: The cop reasonably believes that you are a known felon. The cop personally witnessed you commit a crime -- and the duration of a detection is strictly limited to what is necessary for writing a ticket, or the detention ends in arrest. Example consequence: No more stop and frisk. Permanent longlasting fixed checkpoints may still survive, and this rule does not apply to such things. However, I do want no more random roadside sobriety checkpoints.

    -- Pass a constitutional amendment that all fees, fines, penalties, etc., for all criminal violations must go into a single global fund where that: The only allowed use of the fund is to evenly distribute the fund once per year to all citizens as a yearly check. This fund may not be used for any other purpose. IMHO, anything short of thing constitutes an unacceptable conflict of interests -- an unacceptable interest for the government to levy fees, fines, penalties, etc., to pay its own salaries. Fees for criminal violations when abused represent a regressive taxation system, the exact opposite kind of wealth redistribution program that we want. The only safe way to remove the interest to inflict unnecessary fees is to remove the use of the fund entirely from legislative control, and it has the added benefit of being a good form of wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor.

    Some sort of rule against private prisons and/or some sort of rule to prevent prisons from benefiting from prison labor. Maybe apply a similar global fund policy to any and all gross profits from prison labor. Prisons would then lack a profit motive. I’m really a fan of this solution of removing the conflict of interest problem for a lot of reasons.

    The idea of “we need more police training” is a joke IMHO. How long have we been trying that? Decades? Centuries? Enough with the foolish idea that mere training can prevent people from abusing their power. We need real oversight -- like allowing criminal prosecution of bad cops by private citizens. Cops are just bounty hunters with a badge, and there is absolutely no reason to expect better behavior from a cop than from Dog The Bounty Hunter. Worse, one should expect worse behavior from a cop than from Dog The Bounty Hunter because of the lack of real personal consequences when the cop fucks up.

  10. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    One additional thing.

    The real problem is the “law and order” mentality on the left and the right. Both sides are too soft and too weak, and they want someone else to take care of them. They want there to be a big brother who is always watching out for them. They don’t want to face reality that this big brother will invariably become corrupt and turn on them. For some, it’s god. For others, it’s the protection of government and the police.

    Don’t get me wrong. I still want police. The alternative is even worse -- something like the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which at its height had more enforcers than the entire US military. That’s really scary. I want these enforces to be on the government payroll. However, as far as I can tell, we give these enforces way too much power and discretion for absolutely no reason. They don’t need anywhere near as much power as they currently have to do their job. IMHO, it’s vital that we recognize this fact.

    To anyone who is against the NSA spying on everyone without a warrant. Are you against that, but not for my policies of reigning in the police? Why? It’s the same problem. If you trust the government, you should be absolutely ok with the NSA collecting all electronic communication without a warrant. The only reason to be against the NSA doing that is if you distrust your government. The Republicans have taken their distrust of government too far -- and with a horrible blind spot for the police, the military, the NSA, etc. The Democrats have that same blind spot w.r.t. the police. The police are not your friends -- especially today.

    Those who would sacrifice essential liberty for temporary safety will have neither liberty nor safety.

  11. Mano Singham says

    smrnda @#6,

    When you follow the links to each of the 10 recommendations that give more details, you will find that ending civil asset forfeiture is covered by #8 and no searches for minor amounts of marijuana and ending stop and frisk are covered by #1.

  12. mr.ed says

    Retraining police that anything within a limo length isn’t a kill zone would be a good start.
    Retraining police that they aren’t Big Me and civilians aren’t Little You.
    Psychological testing by a disinterested party a must.
    Complete background checks essential.
    Demilitarizing police equipment and mentality, and a return to community involvement a need now. Start with taking off the black leather gloves and sunglasses. Make nametags much bigger. Take away the anonymity. Always on body cams to limit “joking” about others.
    And get out of the A/C in the car and take a walk.

  13. Johnny Vector says

    Wow is there a lot of whitesplaining going on here. Did any of you read the proposal? Mano already pointed out that smrnda’s points are addressed. Mr. ed goes a step further by taking what’s in the proposal and generalizing it into uselessness. EnlightenmentLiberal has their own personal tl;dr list, again completely ignoring the proposal from the people who are most affected by this.

    Have we all forgotten that the first rule of being a good ally is to shut up and listen?

  14. Peter B says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @9:

    – Pass a constitutional amendment that all fees, fines, penalties, etc., for all criminal violations must go into a single global fund where that: The only allowed use of the fund is to evenly distribute the fund once per year to all citizens as a yearly check.

    Much simpler: use the money to pay down, however slightly, the national debt. Even the FBI would not directly benefit from fines they might levy. IIRC, fines issued by the California Highway Patrol do not benefit the CHP. I believe the fines go to the California Franchise Tax Board.

    Why does the CHP write tickets? It’s a clear reminder to behave better when driving.

  15. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Johnny Vector
    I have a stake in this game too. This is what I want. Do not be so presumptuous to believe that this is an issue that only affects blacks.

    @Peter B
    That’s a great start, but I still think it doesn’t go far enough. The Republicans have a platform position that taxes are evil, but the almost explicit position that no fine is too extreme for criminal behavior, which results in a massive regressive tax scheme. IMHO, nothing is good enough except for a clear rule that the government may not be funded in any way by the fees, fines, penalties, etc., for criminal violations.

  16. mr.ed says

    Court costs to cover numerous municipal projects has blown up so that local gov’t now relies on them. It’s not uncommon to see $200 in court fees on a $30 citation.
    This has to stop but it won’t be easy now that it’s so rampant.

  17. EigenSprocketUK says

    @JohnnyVector #13: good point, well made. And thank you. Sorry for engaging in the gun-nut derail.
    It took me several failures and dozens of minutes over a crap internet connection with an underpowered machine to view those Campaign Zero proposals, but it was worth the wait: they look completely justifiable to my non-US brain. The only one I thought was out of order was the one about mandatory lie-detector tests (they regularly prove to be bollox, or at best no better than a good interviewer). The rest -- all good stuff; OK, I’m listening.

  18. Johnny Vector says

    @EigenSprocketUK #17: Thanks. I missed the bit about lie detectors. I agree, they should reduce that to a demand that nobody be required to undergo a lie detector test. It certainly is egregious if (as the demand implies) civilians placing charges are required to take them and police under suspicion are not. But yeah, I’d like to see all “lie detectors” melted down for scrap, starting immediately.

  19. lorn says

    IMO almost all of this comes down to cultural orientation of police and their training. When prospective police show up for academy training they are drilled and inculcated with a set of values. Some of these come down to being told that the number one job of every officer is to get home uninjured, that they are going to be outnumbered, out-gunned, largely on their own trying to keep the lid on a hostile, lawless population steeped in boundless and mindless violence and viciousness.

    Some of the training literally drills and rehearses academy trainees on the act of shooting people if the muzzle of a gun in their direction. It also drills them to assume that anything that looks like a gun, is a gun. The phrase “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six” is sometimes emphasized. Gun drills are roughly half of the training. Deescalation is a much smaller fraction and it is often not emphasized.

    Many police departments are, in fact, and quite literally, but seldom in public, taught that they are simply the largest and best armed gang on a lawless fronter. Much of this comes as part of the culture handed down from survivors of the bad old days of the 70s when many inner cites were effectively war zones where police were occasionally ambushed, firemen shot while entire neighborhoods were turned into lawless free-fire zones by well armed gangs and roaming brigands. This, and the imperative to get home intact, is the motivation behind the militarization and occupying army aspects of many police forces. They became gladiators.

    Times change, the crime and murder rates are much lower. And yet the police still see themselves as gladiators patrolling a hostile fronter. It is a cultural problem.

    It is sad, in part, because police who are inculcated in this way are good people dutifully complying with the hierarchy of values, rules, guidelines, and priorities they are taught.

  20. mr.ed says

    I have two neighbors who are cops-one suburban and one county. They live in a black-and-white right-or-wrong judgmental world. Only close friends and other cops get a break, or a smile. The rest of us are the other side.
    A classmate from high school became a cop in a nearby suburb, and told me that he could follow me for a quarter mile and find some infraction for a chat.
    Personality? He was the A/V guy-the geek before there were geeks (50’s) with only the stage crew as friends. Unwashed, unpolished, unloved.

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