BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD AND POLICE IN AMERICA

June 02, 2020 Dana Lewis Season 1 Episode 7
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD AND POLICE IN AMERICA
Chapters
00:02:58
Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey/Author Black and Blue
00:11:08
Prof. Barry Friedman/NYU Policing Project
00:21:35
Fmr. NYPD Police Lt. Dr. Darrin Porcher
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD AND POLICE IN AMERICA
Jun 02, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
Dana Lewis

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has ignited demonstrations and riots across America. It's time again to reform policing but where to start?
Whats gone wrong?  
We talk to 3 experts on Police. 2 of them former officers. And our other guest heads up The NYU policing project.  

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has ignited demonstrations and riots across America. It's time again to reform policing but where to start?
Whats gone wrong?  
We talk to 3 experts on Police. 2 of them former officers. And our other guest heads up The NYU policing project.  

Speaker 1:

Hi everyone. And welcome to a special edition of backstory.

Speaker 2:

What do you want? Please get up and get in the car, man. I will get up. Get in the car and wipe the whole . You don't get any, come on, get up. Breathe bro.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

eight minutes and 46 seconds. A chilling deeply disturbing eternity and fatal on May 25th, 2020 George Floyd, an African American man died in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was handcuffed in laying face down on a city street during an arrest by Derek Shovan white American Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on the right side of Floyd's neck for that eight minutes and 46 seconds, two minutes and 53 seconds of that time, Floyd had already become unconscious unresponsive and the streets across America erupted in violence.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 3:

Hey, you know what? Immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America,

Speaker 4:

anger and sadness that has been ingrained in our black community. Not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years. If you're feeling that sadness and that anger, it's not only understandable. It's right

Speaker 1:

before I became a foreign correspondent, I was a crime reporter for six years. I worked at a police headquarters in Toronto, Canada, covering cops and crime. And the courts there were racist policemen. Most, I think were decent good cops, but it is deeply rooted in police culture. How do we clean it up? Why can't American police forces stop these killings, this one with a knee and George Floyd's neck. Others have been gunned down some shot in the back reform police. Now how in this backstory, we take it to Los Angeles to talk to a former LAPD black police officer to New York. We will interview a former internal affairs police Lieutenant, and finally the New York university legal project to discuss the law and police reform a backstory to give you some deeper understanding of what needs to change and why racist police practices even murder don't stop. And maybe won't stop joining me now is retired. Cheryl Dorsey , the author of black and blue. She is a former officer of the Los Angeles police department. And on her website, she writes us an advocate for those who continue to suffer racial injustices, disproportionate, and selective enforcement in tolerance at the hands of a police force that swore an oath to protect and serve. And yet seems to like empathy and compassion and certain areas of the community. I am here for you. Cheryl, can I start off by asking you, which police department are you talking about?

Speaker 5:

I'm referring to all 18,000 police departments that we currently have in the United States. That shocks me. Yeah. And listen, you know, this is all avoidable and every instance where we've seen an officer take a life, it's not because they don't know who the officer is. It's not because the officer doesn't have a history of being overzealous drunk with power it's because police chief have minimized, mitigated the bad behavior. They failed to hold the officers accountable either by termination, not giving them the gift of resignation, but actually terminating an officer and looking to those who are showing red flags and potential liability situations, somewhere down the road, if you don't do anything to deter bad behavior, it will continue

Speaker 1:

as a supervisor in the Los Angeles police department. When you were a Sergeant, I understand there were higher ranks than Sergeant as well, but you're there. And generally on a shift, you have a lot of power over policemen , I think. Did you see policemen that you thought that that guy just should not be out here?

Speaker 5:

Certainly it was my job as a training officer and as a supervisor to monitor evaluated and observe my subordinates in the field. And I did just that, you know, the problem is that many police officers who misbehave, they like to work with other officers who will condone that bad behavior. And that's why you see so many officers willing to stand century standby because they have engaged in similar activities together. And so unless, and until we start evaluating officers psychologically every two years, because they won't self support , get them the help that they need. If they're having anger, issue management problems, if they can't relate to the community that they took an oath to protect and serve, get them off the job, there's no harm. There's no shame in admitting that had Derek Javan been dealt with during those 16, 18 other personnel complaints that he had. It's very possible that today George Florida , Floyd would still be alive and sober that I hold the police chief in Minnesota, wholly responsible.

Speaker 1:

Well, he, you talk about red flags and now you've listed the fact that he had all of those complaints against him. Why do police chiefs not just, you know , cut very early on these guys and say, he's gonna, he's gonna eventually hurt somebody. Why is he on my police department? Why is it , why don't they fire them or remove them from the street?

Speaker 5:

You know, I know that they know this goes on and maybe these are conversations that they have in hushed, dark corners in the administration building, but you'll never hear a police chief admit that publicly in front of a bank of cameras. Why? Because there's liability. And they understand that at the end of every one of these uses of force, where there significant injury and or death, there's going to be a civil suit and ultimately a civil settlement that will be paid by taxpayers. And so I believe that police chiefs are more concerned about protecting the entity, the organism, that department, and on occasion, sometimes Aaron police officers benefit.

Speaker 1:

Why do you say about the, the fact that it's taken a number of days to charge the policemen with third degree murder and then the other officers that were there, there were three other ones that were fired along with him. You know , as we record this interview, we're still waiting for the charges to occur. Is that a mistake? Because the public sees that , um , as, as some kind of miscarriage of justice,

Speaker 5:

as someone who's investigated misconduct, I understand that you only get one bite at the Apple, particularly when you present something to the district attorney. And so it's imperative that there'd be a thorough and complete investigation, but listen, preliminarily, there's a low threshold for probable cause. And if it was someone who looked like me, who had been involved in murdering someone, and I had a couple of my friends with me who also were of the same complexion, they would have had no problem coming up with probable cause, but I want them to get it right. And as far as the others , um, as far as them waiting so long, I think really there was no appetite to do anything in the first place, right? Because were it not for that video going viral and us seeing it and all of the outbursts that came as a result of this, they tried to first tell us that mr. Floyd died because of a medical incident. And we knew that that was not true. They were being intellectually dishonest. And so at some point they're going to charge these other officers. I hope the community will be patient. I hope that they won't use this as a reason to continue to be destructive. We want them to get it right. We want the charges to stick. And ultimately we want a conviction with substantive prison terms that follow,

Speaker 1:

how do you change policing across America, in all those different jurisdictions, with different budgets and different training standards. And some of them I've taken a look at the recruitment videos. They are, you know, who , uh , military , uh, recruitment videos with a guy shooting weapons. And how do you change that psychologically, where you say, you know what you are members of our community , uh, you are part of the community. You have to police with a soft hand when you can, how do you change the mentality? And how do you bring about a national standard of police training to change the psychology?

Speaker 5:

Well, let's start a training issue, but the way you change it is with background checks. The way you change it is with psychological evaluations when they're on and thereafter , because you may come on with well, intentions, you may wind up with a partner who taints you. And , um , because you understand that you want to be pleasing to your partner. You want them to know that you have their back. That's a big thing in police culture. And so, but when find an officer who can't do that, who doesn't meet those standards, then there has to be an appetite for police chiefs to get them off. The department folks need to get on these police departments. I talked to young people who look like me, and they're quick to come up with a multitude of reasons as to why they don't want to be the police, but listen, you can't affect change from the outside. If you're not on there, it's going to take more than one particular thing to fix it. Folks need to vote. Every police chief serves at the pleasure of an elected mayor. Uh , governors are elected district attorneys who failed to prosecute are elected. And so the community needs to get involved and engaged at the ballot box. They need to attend community meetings and have a conversation with police chiefs about things that value them and our quality of life issues. It didn't get like this overnight. We're not going to fix it overnight, but surely we have to start somewhere and we really should have started way back. When we saw that Rodney King video had we done the work, then we may not be here. Now,

Speaker 1:

president Trump, hasn't done much to calm the situation. Are you disappointed that you didn't get a more unifying message from the white house or any kind of message at all?

Speaker 5:

This president is soulless. He has no moral compass and he does nothing that disappoints me because I expect him to do exactly what it is he does day in and day out. There's a reason he's speaking to his base. Sometimes it's a whistle, a dog whistle. Other times it's a megaphone, but he's speaking to a very select group and he's concerned about those votes. And so we have to , um, make sure that we give him a clear and definitive message on November 3rd and get him out of office. Because listen, if you want , uh , the attorney general of the United States to investigate civil rights investigations, you need to understand it's not going to happen under this administration. And so, no, I don't look to this president for anything , um , comforting. I expect him to do exactly what he does.

Speaker 1:

Retired Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey , the author of black and blue. Terrific. To talk to you, thank you for your insights. Thank you, dr. Darren Porcher is a criminal justice expert. He's a consultant and he was a 20 year member of the New York city police department and held the rank of Lieutenant there . And thanks for talking to us. Can I get your reaction to what's happening in cities across America? I mean, I don't think we've ever seen it on this scale. Rioting confrontations with police. There's a lot of anger.

Speaker 6:

Um, I mean, this is , uh , a really catastrophic event to say the least. And the last time I can remember something like this, as I guess probably when I first became a cop back in the nineties, right after the Rodney King verdict came down and the officers were not convicted. We saw a similar pattern of riotous behavior on a national level. Um, but this re this really is, it begs the question of us as a society. What can we do to take us to better place? We had a horrific case where an officer held his need to the neck of George Floyd subsequently causing his death. And what it has since done is sent shockwaves throughout the nation in particularly African American community , excuse me , the African American community. They believe they've been recipients of a miscarriage of justice for years on end, as it relates to police encounters. So as we move forward, how do we progressively get away from this situation and what are the teachable moments that we can apply? So prevent these things from happening, moving forward. And that's really the standing question.

Speaker 7:

People tell me that there were a monstrous disparities in training from one police department to another in America. Some police departments have three officers. The NYP D has thousands of officers, a minutes . It been referred to almost as an army. And then you go to Minneapolis and the training that they may receive on race relations may be dramatically different from the NYP. D would you say that there are big disparities?

Speaker 6:

Absolutely. Professional development is geographical coupled with the financial component or the tax revenue that drives the municipality's ability to fund the police department. So when we look at the professional development in a place like Sydney , for example, you see a very different dynamic in comparison to a place like Jackson hole Wyoming. And so it goes back to what could be done. What are the most effective means and training police officers. As of lately, I want to say upwards of the last seven to eight years, implicit bias training training has been paramount. They're looking to push this as much as possible, but there's a variation in the level of effect , excuse me , the level of effectiveness from one police departments and the next. And it goes back to the African American community, or should say the , excuse me, the communities of color have felt that they've been , um, received a miscarriage of justice for years on end, as it relates to police and civilian encounters. So we really want to focus on what's being done. That works, then what's being done. It doesn't work. I feel that in many instances, the professional development has been more, more checking off the box and say, Hey, we've done it, but there's never been an assessment nor a sustainment piece. When I say a sustainment piece, meaning to reevaluate this late years later down the line to try to determine if this, in fact it's working or do we need to make some adjustments. And I think that what we see right now would happen with the joy for the George Floyd case. This was a case of a systematic breakdown within policing in America. And it just wasn't contained to the state of Minnesota, Minneapolis specific. But I believe that this is something that's been impacting on our nation as a whole. Therefore, we need to use the teachable moments from this incident. What's happened in cases, such as Eric Gardner and multitude of other police misconduct cases that have come to the forefront and use that for how we can better train out or fishers and dealing with the communities of color as themselves

Speaker 7:

winning years as a policeman. And you got to the rank of Lieutenant. So you had to supervise situations like this, I assume. What did you do? You smelled the bad policemen in there?

Speaker 6:

Well, I can speak to my experience the 20 year tenure that I had any MYP YPD and specifically focused on the time when I was a Lieutenant assigned to the NYP, these internal affairs Bureau or many instances I was tasked with investigating what should say, managing the investigations of police misconduct. I had a detail of , uh , sergeants detectives and police officers that investigated these complaints of police misconduct, police corruption. And I oversaw these and I , I drove the machine to ensure that there was a qualitative investigation conducted. Um, police are like anyone else they're a microcosm of society. Are they prone to make errors? Absolutely. And do you have some officers that will commit nefarious conduct in relation to their duties as a police officer? Sure. You do. By and large, you don't have officers that commit to , um, misconduct, but at the same token, 1% is too much. It's way too much. We want to try to create , uh , not just transparency, but we want to create an instancy within policing that ensures the delivery of police services is adequate and is cool , even fractured over the course of time. So when I look at my position as a Lieutenant in the NYP, these internal affairs girl at more or less functioned as a quality control quality control aspect , to ensure that these investigations were being conducted appropriately. And unfortunately we've had bad apples that have been members of the department. And I think in many cases, the municipalities have failed to effectively eradicate those officers. When we look at what happened in Minneapolis, the officer that has been charged with the death of George Floyd had upwards of 19 complaints of misconduct, 19, excuse me, 18 complaints, 18 complaints within a 19 year tenure. So that should have been a harbinger for this officer . The one either had been removed from being on a street or two being terminated. And we clearly see that the municipality didn't effectively address this and it faded and turn it and referred it to the death of mr. Floyd is resolved .

Speaker 7:

You think he should have been terminated a long time ago?

Speaker 6:

Well, I think that there's a , there's a couple of things that should have happened. If not a termination, there should have been a reevaluation, possibly retraining or reposition of that officer. You have some offices that just don't have good human relations skills. Those interpret personal skills are paramount when you're dealing with people on the street, your most, the strongest weapon that you have on the street is your mind. And it's not your gun. Therefore you need to use your mind accordingly. And I don't think that this was effectively addressed by the department. And as a result, they turn this off. So out of roll call and he committed to horrific Athens , do you think most policemen are racist? No, I disagree. I think that , um , for one it's very difficult to , to , to quantitatively assess who's a racist and who's not a racist. And in my experience as a police manager, I didn't care if someone was racist or not. My goal was I wanted you to check that out attitude at the door and abide by the provisions and the directives within the department. If you can do that, which you do outside of the department was not my concern. We all have an implicit bias and that's never going to change. It's not a light switch that you turn on and off. But the one thing that we can do is for organizations or police organizations, is ensure that the officers that are employed by that department and here to the provisions and the protocols within that police department, that a assault ,

Speaker 7:

what would you say about so many police departments that still hire a lot of white policemen and the proportionate , uh, of, of black policemen do not reflect the community population?

Speaker 6:

Well, identity policing is not necessarily the answer because you have African American communities. And in many cases have been brutalized by African American officers. So those communities didn't sign up to be brutalized by people that look the way that they do. I'm not so much as concerned with the race of the officers that are policing the particular jurisdiction, but the ability to provide a level of neutrality and quintessential policing to the civilians that they serve as a result,

Speaker 7:

do you think it was a mistake for the local prosecutors there, the district attorney and everybody else when you had the street already on fire to take several days to arrest this policemen and to process charges against him, and you have another three policemen that have been fired that have still not been brought in and charged formally . I mean, if , if it was a member of the public, they would be taken off the street and charged, and then maybe the charges would be altered later on and amended. But in this case, those guys are still out there and that infuriated the street and lit up the street even more,

Speaker 6:

I can understand the public sentiment in a case like that, but you have to take into consideration what a police officer's duties and responsibility as a police officer is someone that use it that has that, that is authorized to use force against another person in the street. A police officer is also , um, has the ability to, or is authorized to use deadly physical force against another person. And when we look at your average citizen, they're not placed in that sit in that setting. So oftentimes when we have an of an officer's misconduct is predicated on, did the officer in fact adhere to department guidelines, I can look at it from a layman's perspective and say the same thing. He looked that officer should have been locked up immediately. We had video. However, when we look at the positioning of Mr. Floyd, we look at the officers that were involved. We want to make sure that we get this thing, right, because we don't want to have a replication of what happened with Freddie gray years ago in Baltimore, when the prosecutor raced in there and , and created a , I shouldn't say created, but introduced a series of charges that will lay the drop. And now, and then the prosecutor, basically, we're sitting there with egg on their face, want to get this thing, right? We want to move into this slowly, but yet effectively the standard of proof to arrest someone is probable cause. Therefore it's necessary to establish the probable cause by having smart minds at the table to ensure that we get it right. I clearly saw something that appeared to me as a crime that was committed, but I also understand it from the perspective of, we want to make sure that everyone is charged appropriately and not just the one officer that we sorta had a knee on mr. Floyd's neck, as a result,

Speaker 7:

what is the legal obligation on those other offices that are standing around and possibly witnessing a crime, being carried out by a fellow police officer? They have a legal obligation to intervene at some point don't they

Speaker 6:

absolutely the officers , the bystanding officers are complicit in the officer's actions, just as much because they have a duty to respond and either to tell the officer to stop or report that officer to the appropriate refinery. Um, just to circle back on that mr. Floyd was on the ground , um, with the officers next to his , uh , excuse me with the officers need to his neck for eight minutes and 53 seconds after seven minutes, mr. Floyd no longer had vital signs. In addition to mr. Floyd, no longer having vital signs, there was an officer to the right of , um, the officer with his knee or mr. Floyd's neck, which stated, Hey, you should let up, the officer refused to let up. So for another two minutes and 53 seconds, the officer continued to hold his knee or mr . Floyd's neck, after it was determined that mr. Floyd no longer had vital signs. So those officers, once again, are complicit. And it seems as if this was a systemic culture within that department to either cover up misconduct or not take the appropriate action. And I truly believe that the wheels of justice are in motion. And it's just imminent. Before we see another three arrest and connection with the other officers that I will refer to as co-conspirators,

Speaker 7:

should we be banning things like , uh , a need to the neck for, of, of somebody under arrest or choke holds, which have been a big issue in America, or, or is that just too shortsighted? The real issue is policemen who handled force proportionately.

Speaker 6:

I think any act that an officer would commit against a citizen that can cause them undue harm, or it would refer to it as being excessive force should be something that should be prohibited by that department's guidelines. We can create more and more rules, but ultimately it evolves around the appropriate supervision and the insurance that the officers are proceeding accordingly. If you don't have a supervisory matrix in play to monitor what officers are doing, when they're out in the field, you're always going to be subjected to incidents like this. Therefore we need to revert to how, what is the management style in that department to ensure that these officers are doing what they're supposed to do. In addition to that, the supervisor, or I should say the leadership of any police department sets the tone. They set a precedent for what officers are supposed to do. And you see this in all, not just in policing, but in all aspects of employment, you have certain supervisors that people feel that look, they can run circles around. And then you have other other managers where people will say, Hey, look, you know what? This person has worked and therefore we need to do it by the book. And that goes back to setting the tone accordingly, to ensure that the appropriate policing is introduced to us as a whole, when society,

Speaker 7:

how do we stop these things from happening? I know it's such a simple question to ask, and we could talk for hours in the answer, but is, is there kind of a headline answer when you think about this, when the public is out there in the street, demonstrating saying enough is enough, we don't want any more of these. How do we stop them? Will they ever stop? Or are we just going to have to accept that there are some bad apples in once or three times a year in America, we're going to have the same problem again and again and again,

Speaker 6:

we need to constantly revolutionize the professional development in departments. In addition, it needs to be a sustainment pace. When I say a sustaining piece, something this needs to always be revisited, maybe every, every three months, six months, a year to determine the effectiveness of the professional development that's within that department . It can't be a situation was there was a standing order of rules and we just kind of leave it in the binder. And we use that binder when someone does something wrong. And that I believe is the key to getting to a more quintessential policing method in the United States, because oftentimes year on end , we merely create an assemblance of rules. After something goes wrong, it stays in a binder and we use it for disciplinary purposes when you officer does something wrong, however, we don't the effectiveness of the rules that are on the books. And I think that that is the key to getting to a better place. I can't say that we'll never have a case where these incidents won't occur in the future. Granted, we don't have a national standard of policing in the United States. Each municipality is governed by their own set of rules. Um, if there was an

Speaker 7:

therein lies a very big problem,

Speaker 6:

right? If we had a national standard or, you know , a gold standard that all departments should adhere to do, I think that that can be something that works. I believe that that can be a credible or more plausible solution. But the problem that we have with setting a national standard is the budgets for police departments come from municipal tax revenues. So the tax revenues in a particular area will then determine the number of police that you have and the resources that you have in a particular department. There's no way for you to have uniformity based on that. And so, as a result of that, and you just have some, some departments that have more resources and what training and others, as we mentioned at the top of the MTV , I'm a strong proponent, and we should try it every , we should try it as much as possible. It's not a one fix that . It's not a one fix solution in policing. Um, but I'm open for any, anything that can remedy the situation that we have here in America, because we've yet to develop an effective antidote to over policing in communities of color or under policing in some communities. So we wrote back to the sustainment piece that I spoke to earlier, we need to have a constant reevaluation of what's of what's being done to determine the effectiveness and switch it out. If it's not working,

Speaker 7:

you think the positive out of this is it's going to reignite a and I hate to even use that word. It's going to renew a national debate because people understand now in this day and age of the internet, that seconds later what happens on the East coast is a across on the West coast. Uh , and now you have riot rioting in several dozen cities in America. It is a national problem, just not a local problem.

Speaker 6:

I truly agree that it is a national problem, but not all, not all municipalities in the United States are experiencing the same thing. We may want to lend credence to the teachable moments from these departments that are not having issues of excessive use of force. We also want to look to how the, the African American or I should say the minority communities feel as if they deserve . What I've found by far is most, it's not just a race issue, but socioeconomics tend to be a driving factor in over-policing or hyper-aggressive or hyper aggressive policing in certain communities. So when we look at the socioeconomic factor, that's something that we have to take into consideration. It may be a situation, whereas although the community may be under maybe underserved with tax revenue, this may be, this may be a harbinger for a necessity from the federal government in terms of plants, to ensure that that department has the stuff and polices the community, large cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, I'm sorry , oftentimes have the resources, but it's clear that there is a problem with connecting with these communities. And I think in many cases we may have to bring in outside entities, such as community leadership or people from a granular level, meaning those grassroots people in the communities that don't have a voice, but as the adolescents that don't have these connections with the community and directly connect with these individuals that find ways that we can find what are the ills in this community? What are you looking for as a deliverance of services from police? We have to think outside the box, because apparently what we've been doing, hasn't been working, we've constantly referred to referred , um, or tended to the community leaders, but the community leaders have a voice they're in portrait. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1:

And to New York now, very Friedman is the faculty director at the policing project at the New York university of law. First of all, can I just get your reaction to , uh, really some incredible , uh, shocking days? I think for a lot of people across the United States, what's what's happened there.

Speaker 8:

I mean, it's incredibly troubling. Obviously it all began with the killing of George Floyd , uh, and that has set off widespread protests that are a reaction, not only to that killing, but I think pent up frustrations about years of how policing has been conducted in the United States.

Speaker 1:

Why does it keep going wrong? I mean, there are a lot of them have been shooting incidents in this case. This is a terrible incident that is now being called a murder where a policeman puts his knee on somebody's neck. And for about nine minutes, it's incredible that this is, seems to be happening again and again.

Speaker 8:

Yeah. I think the reason is because we talk about reform and accountability in the United States around policing, but we misunderstand what that means in a fundamental way. And until we fix that, we're never going to get it right here in the United States. When we talk about accountability in policing, what we mean is what we call at the policing project, backend accountability, which is something's already gone wrong, or we're just tying to assign blame to somebody. So we talk about criminal prosecutions and civil rights lawsuits and civilian review boards and even body cameras, but in the rest of government. And frankly in the rest of the world, accountability means allowing the public to have a voice in how government itself operates. We don't do that around policing. And until we give the community and the public, a voice and setting the rules regarding policing, we're not going to fix this problem

Speaker 1:

that as I speak to you, I'm in London and they have what's called policing by consent. It is a very different philosophy than , uh, armored cars and big guns and rolling hard and take them down mentality. I mean, now obviously it's a different community and there are different demographics and there are different issues with gun licensing. And the fact that there aren't very many guns, but there is, I would say a psychological difference about what a policeman is to the community and how he's part of that community. Would you agree with me that it's different than some of the cities in America?

Speaker 8:

Uh , I'm going to agree and disagree with you. I mean, I've spent some time in the UK and , uh, there are differences around policing, but there are also some similarities. And so I'm not gonna let you off the hook quite this easily. Uh, I think I would divide it into two separate categories. The first is, you know, what we had the policing project focused on, which is actually regulating policing from the front end with rules and regulations. And I think that is more true in the UK and frankly, very true in civil law countries. Uh , uh, and then there's culture. And I do think the culture is different in the UK, but I also think you have issues with race, very acute issues with race. You have very, very serious issues. I think with surveillance , uh, in the UK , uh, and I know all is not happy in every corner. So I think there are similarities, but I do think that the problem is particularly acute in the United States.

Speaker 1:

All right . So I want to talk to you about Camden, New Jersey, which you're , you're well informed about. I mean, this has become a show room for policing in America, because while we talk about all the things that are going wrong is is this a place in New Jersey where it seems to be going, right?

Speaker 8:

Yeah. So, you know, the former chief, the last chief in Camden is, is , um, the coach here of our advisory board at the policing project. Uh, the current chief we worked with before he took office as chief, he did a quite a remarkable thing, which is he marched with a banner with protestors and actually across the United States that you see as the protests have quieted and things have been more , uh, um, understanding when the police have actually joined in and signaled some empathy for what's going on as opposed to responding aggressively. And so Camden is a place where we've worked very closely with the police department, particularly on their use of force policy. It's a use of force policy that is extremely progressive, that puts the sanctity of human life. First that gives officers clear direction about what's required of them, which is not something that we do here in the United States. And it was a policy that was adopted. I want to point out with the consent of the ACLU, which is a civil liberties organization here, as well as the FOP, the fraternal order of police, the police union in Camden. So this is a perfect example of what we believe in, which is all the stakeholders coming together to put clear policy in place on the front end that everybody can agree with.

Speaker 1:

How would that translate into some help me understand? How would that translate into a policeman responding in Camden, New Jersey versus a policemen responding in Minneapolis?

Speaker 8:

Sure. Well, if you go look at Minneapolis is a use of force policy. It's a very old style use of force policy that tells the officers nothing other than to use force that's objectively reasonable Camden spells out in very clear detail, what is expected of officers every step along the way. And not only that, but once you have a clear policy in place, then you train to that policy and then you expect compliance with that policy. And Camden follows that entire assembly line of how policy is supposed to be made and adhere to. And I do not believe that's the case in Minneapolis. So I will not claim to understand everything that is true in Minneapolis. I've looked at their use of force policy. I know they've had a consistent number of issues.

Speaker 1:

Do you think it starts at recruitment? The problem began right there. This officer had so many different complaints against him and was never removed.

Speaker 8:

Well, I do think we have to be thoughtful about recruiting and that's not something here that we also do all the time. So if you look at recruiting advertisements across the United States, you'll find a wide variety. Some of them will show cops engaging with the community and, you know, only kids and working with people and some will show cops, you know, with big guns and repelling out of helicopters. In fact, I was listening to a podcast from a former , uh , police officer at the met , who was laughing about these ads in the sense of, you know, he didn't do a lot of repelling from helicopters when he was with the mat and that's true of most police officers. So I do think that we send important signals when we recruit about what the job is. And very often we send a misleading understanding of the job. The job is helping people. We ask police officers to be social workers, to be mediators. We don't train them for those things. We don't recruit them for those things.

Speaker 1:

So it sounds like you have some ideas just about, okay, but I mean, it's , it's not a lost adrift debate, is it? I mean, there , there are some pretty good ideas about how you recruit, how you deploy, how you talk about use of force and how you give very, very firm guidelines to policemen that are going out that forces a last resort. And , um, it's just not something to protect yourself in an argument in a civil suit later on. So why can we not apply what we've learned to a lot of these different police departments? Or how do we do that?

Speaker 8:

Well, it is a broken debate. I want to be clear about that in the United States. It has, it has degenerated into an us versus them you're for the police or , or against them. I think that's ridiculous. Everybody wants safe neighborhoods and public safety, and they want people to be safe and go home at night, everyone. Uh, but we have to change our mindset about that. And one of the things we have to do is understand that again, we unlike most other countries do not regulate the police. We simply tell them to keep the peace and then we leave it to them to figure out how they want to do it. And until we change that until we start to involve legislative bodies and police commissions and the public at large racial justice organizations in the decision about how policing occurs, it is not going to change in helpful way.

Speaker 1:

That sounds like a long burn and a very long horizon. How do you come to terms with what has just happened now and offer the public some kind of shorter , uh , solution that can stop this from happening? Because that's the anger, that's what people want.

Speaker 8:

Well, I mean, everybody wants to short solution, you know, we'd all like world peace and the pandemic tomorrow, but none of that's going to happen. We have to be ready for the long burn. On the other hand, I think incorporating this one, understanding that we have to stop thinking we're going to fix policing by simply trying to point fingers at individual officers though , fingers should be pointed if things go wrong, but that we actually have to step back and think that policing is like every other aspect of government. It needs to be regulated from the top. So for example, we were talking about use of force police departments have use of force policies. They tend to do exactly what you just said, which is protect police departments in times of litigation. After the fact, what we need to do is have use of force policies that are mandated by legislative bodies, most likely to stay level, and they have to reflect evidence-based policing like the kind of policy, like the kind of thing you do with the college of policing. So we do have to change dramatically. We have to put regulation upfront through legislative bodies,

Speaker 1:

no matter what, no matter what the benefit of the doubt seems to be going to policemen all the time , um, that they can very easily justify the use of force. Should they not just be , um, should they not just have the same standards applied to them as any citizen does on the street? That force has to be proportionate. And if you're, if you go beyond the norm very quickly, you are in , in criminal trouble.

Speaker 8:

Yeah. I mean, it is different with the police than all of the civil servants. If you think about an and members of the public, if you think about it this way in fairness, which is they are really the only civil servants or people who are asked to use force as part of their job in a way that would hold other people criminally liable. So it's a very tricky problem. And I do not want to minimize the scope of it, but having said that, yes, we are too quick to defer . A lot of blame goes to the Supreme court here, which in a case called Graham versus Connor said, look, when something goes wrong, what we're going to ask is this, did the cop at that one moment use objectively reasonable force, but we're not going to look at all the moments that even led up to that moment. So we're not going to ask, you know, 15 minutes earlier, could you have deescalated the situation that avoided the use of force? So, you know, that one standard that was put in place by the Supreme court decades ago is what governs most of policing in the United States. And to fix that, we get , we got to modernize it's it is not a standard of guide conduct day to day on the street ,

Speaker 1:

Barry Friedman faculty director at the policing project at the New York university of law. Thank you so much.

Speaker 8:

Good to meet you. Take care.

Speaker 9:

That's this special edition of backstory. These are troubling times in America. Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden has called the killing of George Floyd. A wake up call for the nation and the state of Minnesota has launched a civil rights probe into the Minneapolis police, the investigation. They say we'll review policies, procedures, and practices over the last 10 years to determine if the department has systematically discriminated against people of color. I'm Dana Lewis, please subscribe to backstory and share the link.

Speaker 10:

[inaudible] .

Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey/Author Black and Blue
Prof. Barry Friedman/NYU Policing Project
Fmr. NYPD Police Lt. Dr. Darrin Porcher