Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Police violence is contagious

The Intercept has a great piece of research today about police violence in Chicago, which shows that police violence is contagious

From 1972 to 1991, a Chicago detective named Jon Burge led a group of police officers in torturing confessions out of suspects. They called themselves the “Midnight Crew,” and their behavior eventually resulted in the jailing of Burge and the creation of a reparations council to pay the victims. More recently, the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force was found to have planted evidence, assaulted innocent citizens, and committed overtime fraud.

Many of the most egregious examples of police misconduct arise from tightly knit groups of officers like these. That’s no accident. Recently released data from the Chicago police department shows that misconduct spreads from officer to officer like an infectious disease. And the same behavior that leads cops to violate the rules often predicts whether they will participate in a shooting.

Its part of a long-series about the Chicago Police Department, based on statistical analysis of complaints, shootings, and use of force reports. And it basicly shows that bad cops are an infectious disease who corrupt everyone around them, leading to worse and worse abuses. In Chicago, that means torture and murder, as well as unjustified use of force and racism. Which suggests that their employer needs to treat them like an infectious disease, and quarantine them as quickly as possible to prevent them infecting others and harming the public with their criminal behaviour.

Sadly, we'll never see this sort of analysis in New Zealand. The Independent Police Conduct Authority redacts all names from its reports, even when complaints are upheld, and is not subject to the Official Information Act. The Police are subject to the OIA, but I expect they'd fight tooth and nail to protect the privacy of officers who have been subject to complaints or used force, assuming they can even find the underlying data (because, conveniently, they have extremely poor record keeping in all sorts of places you'd expect them to track). Which is a shame, because to point out the obvious, we've had several networks of bad cops - Shipton, Schollum and Rickards and all their enablers being the most obvious - and being able to perform this sort of analysis, either internally or externally, would help identify problem cops and allow them to be removed from duty. But as we've seen time and time again, the last people the police want policed is themselves, and they're opposed to any meaningful oversight. Which means that in New Zealand, this contagious disease will be left to fester.