All-power-corrupts Dep’t

And law enforcement officials have too much power when serving search warrants and making arrests. No surprise if some of them use it badly.

Lots of thorny legal issues could be avoided if law enforcement officials executing search warrants and making arrests refrained from acting like jerks. I’m all for legal redress, but the only thing that would actually change behavior is professional shaming. When deliberately humiliating defenseless women is regarded by other cops as cowardly and unprofessional, it will stop. Not until then.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

5 thoughts on “All-power-corrupts Dep’t”

  1. Yeah, and next we'll deal with the problem of mob enforcers breaking old lady's fingers when they're late on their payments, in the same way.

    The problem with dealing with police misbehavior by means of professional shaming, is that it relies on the profession viewing the behavior in question as shameful. We've got to get to THAT point first, before professional shaming can work. At this time, to the extent it's working, it's the police who are polite during such raids who it's working against.

  2. I know this isn't the focus of the complaint, but why was she handcuffed? So far as I can tell she wasn't the person of interest.

  3. Think about what motivates a young buck to become a cop in the first place. In many departments the salary is not that great, and police work is more dangerous than most jobs. OTOH, police get to boss civilians around, and there are women who will readily put out for a man in uniform. (I don't know whether they (or other women) also put out for women in uniforms.)

  4. Folks,

    I used to be a city manager for small towns in Tennessee and Georgia. A young buck who took that approach to being a policeman would be shown the door quickly. If the Mayor asked why, I would ask him how much he wanted to be on the evening news trying to defend the indefensible, and how much we would have to raise property taxes to cover settling the ensuing law suits out of court (we WOULD NOT want to ever take it to court!) Raising professional standards in criminal justice is an ongoing challenge, but it's crucial to do so, otherwise the population will see you as an "occupying army" and public safety becomes a harder task.

  5. Tom, that's the theory, and I would accept that it *frequently* works (note – it presumes competent city/county officials, and them being honest enough that they have problems with using the city/county money to pay off people for the acts of their cronies). I don't accept that it works well enough to rely on.

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