Catch us live on BlogTalkRadio every

Tuesday & Thursday at 6pm P.S.T.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

CA - Celebrate Our 15 Year Anniversary RED & WHITE DAY

Celebrate Our 15 Year Anniversary
Tuesday 4th of July 2017
At the Bayview Hotel
Immediately Following The Aptos Parade




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May is Motorcycle PROFILING Awareness Month here in California.

 - Reports acts of profiling to the Motorcycle Profiling Project's National Profiling Survey.…/
- Get involved with your local motorcycle rights organization or coalition, learn more on the issue and what you can do to help STOP Motorcycle Profiling
- Come to the 2017 NCOM Convention in Reno, NV on 5/12& 13 and learn what other states are doing and what national programs are being developed.…/ncom-convention-registration.html
- KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!…/know-your-r…/your-rights-and-police

Bikers Arrested for Wearing Bandanas


Louisiana motorcyclists in the Bossier/Shreveport area may be experiencing a mechanism of profiling that many are unaware of. It has been reported to the MPP that 17 motorcyclists in the area have recently been arrested for wearing bandanas, scarves, and even a bubble shield while riding because it conceals their identities in public. Local law enforcement contends that covering your face in public is a violation of Louisiana’s anti-mask law, LSA-R.S. 14:313, which carries a 6 month to 3 year term of imprisonment. Although every incident has not been confirmed, the MPP spoke to one motorcyclist directly and confirmed that he was arrested for concealing his identity on November 8, 2016.

The law used to justify targeting motorcyclists for wearing masks in Louisiana exists elsewhere. At least 15 states have what experts call “general anti-mask laws” that could be applied to motorcyclists. Applying anti-masking laws to motorcyclists covering their heads and faces with protective gear is an abuse of statute and demonstrative of motorcycle profiling. An exemption for public safety ought to be obvious.
Motorcyclist Arrested For Concealing Identity

While visiting Louisiana to attend and speak at a state Confederation of Clubs and Independents meeting in Alexandria, the MPP became aware of the alleged arrests for concealing identities in public. The MPP spoke to a member of a motorcycle club in the Bossier/Shreveport area that was able to confirm the validity of the rumors.

Although a traffic pretext was used to justify the stop, the MPP evaluated his citation and he was indeed arrested for concealing his identity, an alleged violation of state code LSA-R.S. 14:313.  This individual  was on his way to vote in the 2016 National Election. He was denied this opportunity. He was forced to pay a bond in order to obtain his release and as of this writing the issue has not yet been resolved.

(Notably, this same individual has been experiencing a pattern of harassment while riding his motorcycle. 9 days after the mask arrest he was again stopped and harassed for a series of pre-textual infractions preceding more questions about his club affiliations.)

LSA-R.S. 14:313
    LSA-R.S. 14:313    

    Masks or hoods, wearing in public places prohibited; penalty; exceptions; permit to conduct Mardi Gras festivities, how obtained.    

    No person shall use or wear in any public place of any character whatsoever, or in any open place in view thereof, a hood or mask, or anything in the nature of either, or any facial disguise of any kind or description, calculated to conceal or hide the identity of the person or to prevent his being readily recognized.    

    Whoever violates this Section shall be imprisoned for not less than six months nor more than three years.    

    This Section shall not apply:    

        To activities of children on Halloween, to persons participating in any public parade or exhibition of an educational, religious, or historical character given by any school, church, or public governing authority, or to persons in any private residence, club, or lodge room; or,    

        To persons participating in masquerade balls or entertainments, to persons participating in carnival parades or exhibitions during the period of Mardi Gras festivities, to persons participating in parades or exhibitions of minstrel troupes, circuses, or other dramatic or amusement shows, or to promiscuous masking on Mardi Gras which are duly authorized by the governing authorities of the municipality in which they are held or by the sheriff of the parish if held outside of an incorporated    

    All persons having charge or control of any of the festivities set forth in paragraph (2) of this Section shall, in order to bring the persons participating therein within the exceptions contained in paragraph (2), make written application for and shall obtain in advance of the festivities from the mayor of the city, town, or village in which the festivities are to be held, or  when  the festivities are to be held outside of an incorporated city, town, or village, from the sheriff of the parish, a written permit to conduct the festivities. A general public proclamation by the mayor or sheriff authorizing the festivities shall be equivalent to an application and permit.  

Applying Law To Motorcycle Safety Gear Is Absurd

Originally the Louisiana law against wearing masks and hoods in public was motivated by the Ku Klux Klan wearing hoods and masks concealing their identity while they terrorized and intimidated others.[1] Louisiana’s law makes exemptions for Halloween and Mardi Gras, but none for public safety. Although clearly not the intent of the law, motorcyclists covering their faces to avoid bugs, wind, and rain may be subject to arrest.

Considering Louisiana’s mandatory helmet requirement based on public safety, the absurdity of applying anti-mask laws to motorcyclists is further demonstrated. Every helmet covers a  motorcyclists  head similar to a hood and all motorcyclists wear eye protection. The very act of riding a motorcycle legally requires concealment. A motorcyclist wearing a full face helmet could be arrested for concealing their identity if anti-mask laws apply. Remember, a full face helmet is considered the best protection among experts that advocate helmets.[2]

Some states that have similar laws have anticipated such conflicts and include an exemption for safety or sporting activities in their anti-mask statutes.[3]   But 15 states, including Louisiana, have more general statutes that could lead to these abusive applications.[4]    In fact, “general anti-mask laws proscribe the simple concealment of physical identity in public, regardless of coexistent criminal activity. Individuals have been prosecuted under general anti-mask laws for wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood, for dressing in the clothing and wearing the makeup of the individual’s opposite sex, and for placing a leaflet between the individual’s face and eyeglasses.”[5]

Possible Solutions
Numerous strategies may exist to combat anti-mask laws being applied to motorcyclists. Judicially, filing for a Declaratory Judgement arguing that the statute is unconstitutional is another option, although this has been attempted and has not always been successful.

“The conflicting court decisions, along with the varying scope of anti- mask laws themselves, reflect the uncertainty concerning when, if ever, the government can constitutionally ban public mask-wearing. Further complicating this area of the law is the apparent political bias of some of the courts that have ruled on the challenges.”[6]

Legislatively, an anti-motorcycle profiling law would eliminate discriminatory pretext stops at the source. Also, adding an exemption to state statute for safety and sport, including motorcycling, would prevent abuse and preserve the original intent of the law.

[1] Attorney General of Louisiana — Opinion 95-188 (Ops. La. Atty. Gen. 1995)


[3] Stephen J. Simoni, “Who Goes ere?” — Proposing a Model Anti-Mask Act, 61 Fordham L. Rev. 241 (1992). Available at: h p:// r/vol61/iss1/16

[4] See Ala. Code § 13A-11-9(a)(4) (1982); Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1301(l)(g) (1987 & Supp. 1990); D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3112.3 (1989); Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 876.11-.16 (West 1976 & Supp. 1992); Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-38 (1988 & Supp. 1991); La. Rev. Stat.

Ann. § 14:313 (West 1986); Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.396 (1991); Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.735 (West 1987); N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-22-3 (Michie 1984); N.Y. Penal Law § 240.35(4) (Mc- Kinney 1989); N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-12.7 to .11 (1986); Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 1301 (C 1983); S.C. Code Ann. § 16-7-110 (Law. Co-op. 1976); Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-309(c) (1991); Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-422 (Iichie 1988); W. Va. Code § 61-6-22 (1989).


 The following quote epitomizes the gap between what soldiers wish they were, and the modern battle field today:
“Out of every hundred men, ten shouldn’t be there, eighty are are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” (Attributed to Heraclitus, I have a sneaking suspicion this quote has been mis-attributed; the same page has a common misquoting of Orwell and Churchill. I've read too many popular "clever" quotes that I later find are inaccurate.)
True or not, the above quote has joined “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm,” as one of the quotes that make up the military psyche, and ethos of the military. Many soldiers point to this and say "This is what a warrior is. This describes war. This describes me." But this quote doesn't describe war or warriors, at least not in the last hundred years. The warrior, if he ever existed, was long ago replaced by machines, mechanization, and the new modern battlefield.
First, the modern battlefield is one of specialization. Only half of the Army is involved directly in combat duties, many are human resources technicians, electricians or repairmen. This battlefield is a battlefield of naval aircraft carriers; where one person's entire job is changing food and drinks in the vending machines. Is a vending machine operator a warrior? (One could make the argument this is a great thing, that we have isolated our "real fighters," according to the quote, in the combat roles. But of course, there is no "warrior" test.)
Second, modern weapons commit massive violence on a massive scale that is often random and unpreventable. They do not distinguish between warrior and non-warrior, fighter and non-fighter, nor can the warrior defend himself from those weapons the way he could sword and spear. The modern battlefield is a battlefield of cruise missiles, guided bombs and TOW missiles; a battlefield made up of IEDs and mortar shells. When soldiers ran over the trenches in World War I, the machine gun bullets didn’t distinguish between warriors and the rest. There is nothing the warrior could have done to prevent his death. Often, there is nothing he can do today to prevent the IED exploding. (Again, you could argue the soldier could prevent IEDs by winning over the local population with great counter-insurgency, but this also goes against the common view of the "warrior" and certainly isn't what Heraclitus meant.)
Which gets at the point behind this quote. There is a rugged individualism, a sense in which the warrior (and by extension every soldier who reads the quote and sees themselves in it) controls his own destiny. His skill and bravery alone will win the battle. But in the random capriciousness of bombs from the sky, this just isn’t true. One man can't, and won't make the difference.
Third, distance destroys the warrior. How far away can a soldier be from a battlefield and still be considered a soldier? Is the bomber pilot a warrior? Do his remote bombing make the difference in the battle? What about the analyst sighting targets safely in a Super FOB, does he make the difference? What about the Sailor who fires the cruise missile? The pilots flying predator drones in Nevada consider themselves soldiers, but I don't think anyone would call them warriors. At least not on the same level of the soldiers Heraclitus was talking about.
When did the warrior die (or at least stop making a difference)? Certainly he was dead by World War I and II; two wars fought in such numbers, no individual made a difference. Bullets, killing thousands in Antietam, fired at near random did not distinguish warrior and fighter. Once the bullet was invented, the warrior knights were killed; once armor was invented, peasant warriors were slaughtered. The impact of the warrior pales in comparison to the impact of technology. Perhaps, if the quote refers to the inventor of the long bow and the bullet, it would be accurate.
I said in the beginning “if the warrior” ever existed. Michael recently forced me to read a section of John Keegan's A History of Warfare, and his description of the phalanx style warfare of the Greeks--the age in which Heraclitus wrote--is a model of randomness. Two phalanxes crash into one another, then poke and spear at one another to find a gap. Once the phalanx is cracked, they push through, and the phalanx disperses, and everyone runs away. And once again, the warrior doesn’t make a difference, the weakest link does.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Austin, TX — Cops Now ‘Protecting’ You by Hiding in Buses and Robbing You for Not Wearing a Seat Belt

Matt Agorist
Austin, TX — Instead of going out and solving robberies, rapes, murders, domestic disputes, or thefts, the Austin police department is doing something that doesn’t benefit society in any manner whatsoever. They are going undercover in city buses to catch people who don’t have their seat belt on.
This week, Austin cops took to city buses to peer through the windows at unsuspecting criminals — who’d dare drive their own vehicle without their own seat belt on.
When the cop on the bus spots the dangerous criminal driver who may have simply forgotten to buckle up, he signals the hero officer out on the road to pull them over and extort money from them. Why is the Austin police department doing this, you ask?
“To try and make people aware of the dangers of driving without a seat belt,” APD Officer Mike Barger said.

However, the dangers of driving without a seat belt are well known. Cops do not have to rob people of their hard earned money to hammer that point home. The real reason the APD is conducting this program is the reason police departments exist in the first place — revenue collection.
Nothing exposes the revenue collecting nature of the state quite like police officers pulling over citizens and issuing them fines for not wearing their seat belts.
Seat belt ‘laws’ exhibit the tyrannical nature of government and illustrate the lengths to which the state will go to separate the citizen from their wealth.

It takes a person incapable of questioning morality versus legality to approach otherwise entirely innocent individuals and target them for extortion via fines issued for failure to comply with arbitrary decrees for victimless ‘crimes.’
To think that society needs to be extorted by armed agents of the state to protect them from themselves is as asinine as it is tyrannical. If you personally feel that you need a police officer to steal your money and threaten you with jail because you aren’t wearing your seat belt — you are part of the problem.
Sadly, municipalities across the country are so addicted to the extortion of citizens for victimless crimes that they are unable to see the immoral nature of robbing people for not wearing their seat belts.
The Texas Department of Transportation even gave Austin police $79,000 in taxpayer money to fund the start-up of this tyrannical operation — “Click it or Ticket.”
“The dangers of being injured in a crash at low speeds are significantly increased by not wearing a seat belt,” Barger said, again attempting to justify robbery to ‘keep people safe.’

CBS Austin interviewed Sgt. David McDonald, who was also riding on buses extorting people for seat belts. McDonald attempted to justify the robbery of citizens for not wearing seat belts by using his wife as an example — who he says took off her seat belt briefly and then got into an accident.
“Someone ran a red light and she got ejected out of our vehicle because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt,” McDonald said. “Finding my own wife in the street bleeding profusely, I can’t get those images out of my head.”
No one is going to deny that finding your wife bleeding in the road is a horrifying experience that no one should go through. That being said, the analogy is little more than a straw man. Short of placing a cop inside every vehicle, the state will never be able to guarantee that every citizen wears their seat belt.
If seat belt fines couldn’t stop a cop’s wife from buckling up, how on earth can this officer justify robbing people to make them buckle up? The bottom line is that people don’t refuse to buckle up because they are intent on breaking the law. They don’t need to be treated as criminals and, they most assuredly do not need to be robbed.
People wear their seat belts because it is safe. Those who deliberately refuse to wear their seat belts — knowing the potential repercussions — deserve the right to make that foolish choice as this decision has NO VICTIM and harms no one but the person making it.
On the law enforcement side, however, stealing money from innocent people for accidentally forgetting to buckle up, absolutely creates a victim. And, being that victims can’t exist without someone making them so, it also creates a criminal.
Ironically enough, the Austin cop in the image at the top of this page, not only doesn’t have his seat belt on — as he robs people for not wearing their seat belts — but he’s standing up. Hypocrisy at its finest.

The good news is that the public is no longer buying it. When CBS posted this article on their Facebook page, the comments said it all.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

USA - Memorial Day 2017

Decoration Day, which we now call Memorial Day, began spontaneously in the spring of 1864 as our national day of suffering.

It was the inevitable result of the American Civil War in which at least 620,000 men died. Their survivors suffered from those deaths. About 576,000 men were wounded. Surgery was primitive. There were no antibiotics and the only anesthetics – alcohol, cannabis and opium – were often in short supply. One hundred thousand men died of camp diseases and another 400,000 simply disappeared. Some of them may have been deserters but some portion of them simply rotted where they fell. About eight percent of the combatants in the War Between the States returned home without an arm or a leg.

That suffering only found meaning when it was remembered.

Decoration Day was the day the living tended the monuments to the dead. In the beginning, usually the monuments were made of wood. Sometimes they were slabs of slate. As decades passed, as the North and the South reunited in their shared suffering and their terrible shared history, the monuments turned to granite, marble and bronze. Those monuments were not made as insults to some unimaginable future. There were made so the future might never forget that it was built on the bones of those who sacrificed their own futures for us.

By the time of our next war, when 2,446 Americans died in Cuba and the Philippines, American History was carved in stone. There was nothing arbitrary and relative about the story of us. History is not made of sand. It can only be buried by it.

Every generation or so, we are reunited as a nation by our sorrow.

Fifty-three thousand four-hundred and two American soldiers died in the War to End War; 405,399 died in the war after that; 36,574 died in Korea; 58,220 perished in Vietnam; 383 died in the Gulf War; and so far 4,410 have died in Iraq and 2,184 have died in Afghanistan. They were all our sons and brothers. They are our heroes.  They died for us. Our history is written in their blood.  Each of their deaths was its own timeless moment and we are not redeemed from our history by renouncing it. We are not only who we are. We are also who we were.

Our history is a pattern of timeless moments. Each of their deaths was an act of faith in us, in who we would become, in who we have become and in who we will become.

Enjoy your barbecue.

When Cops Fear for Their Lives

It seems to be a cops “get out of jail free” card.  After firing their weapon, they exclaim, I feared for my life!
Equipment Carried by Law Enforcement
When a police officer dresses for work, they put on a duty belt that is filled with equipment to assist them in doing their job.  While some items are for defense, such as the bullet proof vest, other items are for offense.
Officer Being Fitted for a New Vest

The officer dresses out of fear.  He wears the bullet p
proof vest in fear of being shot.  He carries a loaded weapon in fear of a suspect having a weapon.  His job starts each day in fear.
Officers Train with Their Service Weapons
The officer has spent countless hours training with his service weapon.  His training is expected to kick in when he is put in situations that he fears.
He has attended the training academy.  He has learned how to place handcuffs on a suspect.  He has completed a required probationary period.
He has even done the job.  He has gone out and made arrests, dealing with those society wants to lock up and throw away the key
He has conducted an untold number of traffic stops and issued ticket after ticket.  This is not unfamiliar to him.  And he has used his training in each stop..
So with all his gear.  The bullet proof vest, service weapon, Ar-15, taser, handcuffs, pepper spray, extra ammunition, flashlight, baton and all his other equipment.  And backup just blocks away.

That when they arrive to a scene, they allow adrenaline to take over.
And forget about their training, forget about what they learned in the academy, forget about the plethora of equipment strapped to their duty belt and turn this.
Into family members devastated by the loss of an innocent family member.  The financial strain of needing to pay for burial services.  All because a cop “feared for his life”.  After all that equipment and training, fear should not be an excuse for murder.





Friday, May 26, 2017

Routine smog checkpoints impede California roads in broad daylight

CALIFORNIA — Checkpoints are becoming part of the scenery in many parts of the country.  Excuses for blocking roads range from catching drunks, to finding drugs, to catching illegal immigrants, to just simply making people show their papers in order to continue down the road.  In California, they employ daily checkpoints to catch polluters.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Dane Chea, owner of Holt Automotive Repair in Rocklin, after witnessing a nearby smog checkpoint. “It’s taking time away from people. Everybody’s busy.”

Smog testing equipment used at a checkpoint.  (Source: ABC 23 Bakersfield)
Smog testing equipment used at a checkpoint. (Source: ABC 23 Bakersfield)
The smog tests, run by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR),  are technically voluntary, but with the fanfare and presence of highway patrolmen flagging people down, it does not come off that way to many drivers.
“They certainly don’t make it seem like it’s voluntary. There were no warning markers. Nothing like that at all,” said Brentwood resident, Mark Cutino.  “It just seemed intimidating,” he told the San Jose Mercury News.
The California Highway Patrol’s own Erik Martinez admitted to the same newspaper that he “spent a lot of time trying to calm drivers down” at a recent checkpoint.
After witnessing a smog checkpoint in his neighborhood at 11:00 a.m. in the morning, Scott Tsuneishi of described what he saw as a “mandatory smog blockade.”
Two teams of BAR agents are deployed on a “near-daily basis.”  If the drivers comply with the checkpoint, bureaucrats insert a probe in their tailpipe and the vehicles are analyzed for a number of failures.  According to Mercury News:
The tests, which take about 10 minutes, are set up similar to smog checks at a service station. Technicians drive the vehicle up onto an elevated metal dynamometer to check the car’s components and systems, indicator lights, ignition timing, gas cap and exhaust recirculation system, said Eric DeBarruel, a program representative with the automotive bureau.
Initially set up as a “one-time inspection” in 1966 by the California Highway Patrol, this program has continued to grow and expand. 1996 gave way to bi-annual inspections that were tied to the registration process of the vehicle. This means that by accepting a California driver’s license and registration, you are agreeing that you will comply with this law or that you will be subject to legal consequences.
In 2002, the California Health and Safety Code added Section 44081, which was meant to give the code and existing smog laws some “teeth.”  This specific section gives police officers in California the authority to randomly stop vehicles to “ensure their compliance with state smog laws.” The first portion of the section reads:
44081. (a) (1) The department, in cooperation with the state board, shall institute procedures for auditing the emissions of vehicles while actually being driven on the streets and highways of the state. The department may undertake those procedures itself or seek a qualified vendor of these services. The primary object of the procedures shall be the detection of gross polluters. The procedures shall consist of techniques and technologies determined to be effective for that purpose by the department, including, but not limited to, remote sensing. The procedures may include pullovers for roadside emissions testing and inspection.
Combined with the bi-annual inspections that are tied to vehicle registration and Section 44081 and what do you end up with?  Today’s smog checkpoints.
But are these checkpoints really worth anything?  California vehicles already have to pass an emissions test to be registered in the state.  Why devote resources to a redundant smog check?  Isn’t California bankrupt?
Last month, the California Taxpayers Association compiled a startling analysis of the state’s unfunded debts.  As reported by the Sacramento Bee:
Cal-Tax researchers counted $443 billion in state and local debts, roughly two-thirds of it carried by the state and the other third by local agencies. That’s the equivalent of a fifth of the state’s annual economic output and amounts to $11,600 for each of California’s 38 million residents.
It is remarkable that a state with such startling levels of outstanding debts can be spending money on frivolous things like this.  But this is California we are talking about.  No project is too absurd to spend taxpayers’ dollars on.  In fact, if a driver fails emissions testing in California, they pay him to stop driving his vehicle, from $1,000 to $1,500, in what is referred to as a “vehicle retirement” package.
In light of the redundancy of the testing, and with the state budget statistics in mind, one  can only conclude that the California legislature wants to spend money it doesn’t have, and wants the public to grow accustomed to being flagged down by police in broad daylight for customary checkpoints.

Reposting this 2013 article because it was reported (now confirmed, but don't have detail on it just yet) that the CHP were pulling over cars in San Bruno yesterday supposably for the purposes of conducting a smog check. These are not mandatory, they are voluntary, yet they tend to make it sound like they are mandatory unless you specifically ask.
If you happen to see or get caught up in one of these smog checkpoints here in CA, please take pics or video and post them.
These are not mandatory, they are voluntary. A few years ago they were doing this in Rocklin CA. I was on my bike. I stopped to see if they were telling the people it is voluntary. They laughed at me. I went back to the bike and grabbed my video camera. The CHP Officer walked back to his car and stayed there. I told the people waiting for their cars it was voluntary. They challenged those doing the testing and they said yes, it is voluntary. Those folks left and no one else wanted to participate in the "voluntary" smog check. The tests are being conducted by the Bureau of Automotive Repair.
Here is the ding...this is just another way to generate revenue by partnering with an industry that benefits from frightened citizens who think they can be fined or forced to get rid of their car if they don't meet the standard. On the flip side, CHP can't issue citations for a failed test because it would expose the existing system of required smog tests as flawed. And I'm sure these must be some type of kickback from each smog station to the state just to participate in the program. Again, it is all about the $$$$$$$

                     Roadside Inspection Program

The Roadside Inspection Program was established by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 44081 which requires BAR, with the assistance of the California Highway Patrol, to inspect the emissions of vehicles while actually being driven on California roadways.
Why are roadside surveys necessary?
The data collected from roadside surveys provides an overview of the emissions emitted by vehicles driven on California's roads to help ensure the State is meeting federal standards for reducing ozone-forming pollution generated by motor vehicles. The data also provides useful information to evaluate and improve the performance of the Smog Check Program.
Where are roadside surveys performed?
The surveys are performed in the areas of the state with the poorest air quality, including the Central Valley, the San Francisco Bay area, the greater Los Angeles area, Inland Empire, and San Diego area. BAR randomly selects ZIP codes in these areas and then identifies suitable sites where it can safely conduct the surveys.
Who performs the roadside surveys?
Roadside surveys are performed by BAR staff. Each team generally consists of three or four individuals, all of whom are ASE certified automotive technicians.
How are the roadside surveys performed?
Vehicles selected for testing are stopped by an officer of the California Highway Patrol. The consumer is greeted by a BAR representative who provides them with information about the survey's purpose and answers any question they may have. The survey is performed in a manner similar to a Smog Check inspection and usually takes less than 10 minutes.
How do these surveys affect consumers?
Participation in the survey is voluntary. There are no consequences to consumers, regardless of their vehicle's emission control equipment or its emission levels. At the conclusion of the inspection, the participants receive a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) detailing the results of the test.
Does the survey take the place of a required Smog Check inspection?
No. The VIR may not be substituted for a vehicle's official Smog Check inspection report. However, the VIR does provide important information about the vehicle. BAR staff will also alert participants to any mechanical issues that are observed while conducting the inspection.

BAR appreciates your help in improving air quality in California. To learn about more ways you can help to reduce air pollution, visit

Roadside Emission Survey Consumer Information Sheet (pdf)
EvaluaciĆ³n Sobre Emisiones en la Carretera Hoja Informativa al Consumidor (pdf)


Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and motorcycle

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Why can't police use PIT moves to stop motorcycles?

My understanding is that in the US, if you flee a traffic stop, the police can use the precision immobilization technique (PIT) to stop your vehicle. But if someone flees on a motorcycle, the police simply let the rider go.

Andy Anderson, not a lawyer.
A PIT maneuver is a (relatively) controlled collision. It is still risky, and only done if other options are excluded (spike strip deployment, low-speed pursuit, even just letting the suspect go to reduce risks).

If you collide a Crown Victoria with a motorcycle, the most likely result is a complete loss of control by the driver, probable ejection from the seat, and/or scraping along the ground. More bluntly, the driver is probably going to get severely injured or killed.

That's not an acceptable risk, in the eyes of a sensible cop.

Additionally, there's the issue of getting up next to the bike to perform the maneuver. Motorcycles generally have much better power-to-weight ratios than cars, even higher-powered cars like an Interceptor-model Crown Vic, or one of the Chargers getting used more recently.

The bike will probably just smoke the officer trying to pull them over. At that point, you have a high-speed pursuit on your hands, which most PDs will call off immediately as an unacceptable risk.

Chicago Cop Club Coverup

Two members of the Twisted Image Motorcycle Club and a member of the Knight Keepers MC were attacked by members of the American Knights Motorcycle Club as they tried to enter a Chicago bar called Zachary’s For Cocktails about 4 a.m. Sunday. And, the official coverup started immediately.
The American Knights has chapters in Chicago and Joliet, Illinois. According to the club’s website, it is “comprised of active and retired law enforcement officers, military, and qualified civilians who support the goals of  law enforcement. The club promotes brotherhood and the sport of motorcycle riding. The American Knights Motorcycle Club of Chicago has been honored three times by the Chicago City Council for outstanding charity work in the city of Chicago. Our main focus as a club is brotherhood, promoting motorcycle riding, and various fundraising activities for Police, Military, and many other charities.”
All three of the victims are military veterans. One is a former Airman, another a former Marine and the third is a former Army Ranger.

Anybody Know Tower

After American Knights Physically denied the three victims entry to the bar in a Chicago neighborhood called Jefferson Park, they were shot by an American Knight who emerged from the bar. Multiple sources have identified the shooter as an intoxicated,  off-duty Chicago police officer whose name in his club is “Tower.” One victim was shot in the thigh, a second was shot in the back and the third was shot in the chest. A witness said at least five shots were fired.
Police initially issued a press release that said the three victims “were outside in front of Zachary’s For Cocktails in the 5300 block of North Milwaukee Avenue when they began fighting with several other males. A gunman emerged from a lounge and fired shots.” The press release was removed from the Chicago Police media notification system after the Chicago Tribune published an interview with one of the victims, Roberto Ramos.
“People were running and the guy was shooting and aiming at people and people were just running off in different ways,” Ramos told the Tribune. “I got up to see who was the guy who tackled me. That’s when I realized the guy was already shooting and had already shot people. I tried talking to my friend – he was like, ‘I can’t feel my legs;’ my brother-in-law was down the block, laying on the ground also. He was shot.”
Media in Chicago, including the Tribune’s initial cove rage and coverage on other media outlets like WGN and CBS placed the shooting in the context of “Four dead, 35 wounded in weekend shootings in Chicago.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, no one has been arrested in connection with the shooting. The Tribune reports “the case remains under investigation.”

There is a GoFundMe page to cover the legal and medical expenses of the most seriously wounded victim.


Image may contain: 1 person

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's Not ‘Malware’ When We Have a Warrant, FBI Says

Joshua Kopstein

The government is trying to downplay the hacking code it used to identify thousands of anonymous Tor users under a single warrant.

The FBI has been in the hacking business for a long time, famously using malware to log suspects' keystrokes as early as the 1990s. But in the high-profile case surrounding a dark web child abuse site called Playpen, the Bureau is arguing that because it was authorized by a warrant, its computer intrusion code shouldn't be called "malware" at all.
In a testimony earlier this week in the case of US vs. Jay Michaud, FBI special agent Daniel Alfin argued that the hacking tool used to identify Michaud and thousands of other Playpen users—which the FBI euphemistically calls a "Network Investigative Technique" or "NIT"—isn't malware because it was authorized by a court and didn't damage the security of Michaud's computer.
"The NIT utilized in this investigation was court-authorized and made no changes to the security settings of the target computers to which it was deployed. As such, I do not believe it is appropriate to describe its operation as 'malicious,'" Alfin said. He added that he personally loaded the NIT onto one of his own machines and that "it did not make any changes to the security settings on my computer or otherwise render it more vulnerable to intrusion than it already was."
Malware is short for "malicious software," and has always been somewhat hard to define. But the government's interpretation defies its commonly understood meaning in computer security, which describes code that ssurreptitiously installs and runs on a device without the owner's consent. The FBI's NIT would certainly fit that description: it was quietly installed on the machine of anyone accessing the Playpen website, which was only available while using the anonymous Tor browser. Once implanted, the NIT returned the true IP addresses of the site's visitors. To send the NIT, the FBI seized control of the Playpen site, effectively facilitating the distribution of child abuse images for two weeks.

It may just be semantics, but the terminology could be crucial as momentum builds in the courts and Congress to limit the FBI's hacking powers. Earlier this week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced the Stop Mass Hacking Act, a bill that would prevent the FBI from using a single warrant to install malware on thousands of computers whose locations are unknown, like it did in the Playpen case.

Judge Robert J. Bryan recently reversed his previous position on the FBI's use of the NIT, ruling that the government doesn't have to reveal the full exploit code while simultaneously saying that the government should face sanctions for its refusal to produce evidence. In response, the government argued on Friday that it should receive no sanctions at all for refusing to disclose the exploit, claiming that the defendant already has enough information about the NIT to build a defense.


Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and motorcycle

Police Body Cameras


A fairly common recommendation for reducing police misconduct is to increase use of body cameras. By recording police-citizen encounters, police supervisors, judges, reporters, and others can get objective evidence of what happened instead of self-serving hearsay.
The proposal is gaining popularity, but it is also more complicated than most people realize. First, there are privacy concerns for persons who do not want their police encounters on the evening news or splashed across social media. Second, the costs involved in maintaining a body camera system are not insignificant. Those costs have to be weighed against other police needs and other reform measures.
Do police body cameras improve police behavior?
The short answer is that it is too early to tell. However, the results from the several studies on police body cameras are encouraging.
One of the most cited police body camera studies was conducted in Rialto, California between February 2012 and February 2013. During the trial, 54 front line officers were randomly assigned to either wear body cameras or to not wear the cameras while on shift. Of the 988 shifts examined by researchers, officers wore body cameras in 489 and did not in 499. Researchers compared the number of use-of-force incidents and complaints against police in the trial period to previous years. The results, based on data from the trial, are below.

At first glance, it might be tempting to correlate the reduction in use-of-force incidents and complaints against the police with the introduction of body cameras. But, it is important to keep in mind that the Rialto trial began in February 2012; only a month after a new chief took over the department. The new chief, William A. Farrar, was one of the authors of the Rialto study and he implemented several reforms after starting his new job. Thus, it is difficult to determine now much of the decline in use-of-force incidents and complaints can be directly attributed to the police body cameras. The Rialto study also cannot explain whether the drop in use-of-force incidents and complaints can be attributed to police or citizens changing their behavior. As the researchers wrote, “we do not know on which party in an encounter the cameras have had an effect on, or how the two effects — on officers and on suspects — interact.”
While it is the case that police body cameras cannot conclusively be shown to improve citizen or police behavior this is not in and of itself an argument against the use of police body cameras. Body camera footage has proved valuable in investigations into police misconduct.
What are the privacy implications of body cameras?
Police body cameras raise privacy concerns. The indiscriminate release of body camera footage could have a devastating effect on the victims of crime. Those crafting police body camera policy have to effectively balance privacy with the desire to hold police officers accountable for their actions.
What does such a policy look like? Legislators, law enforcement organizations, and civil liberty groups have all made police body camera recommendations. However, some police departments that use body cameras either do not have policies in place or do not release them.
In October 2014 the ACLU asked twenty of the largest police departments as well as 10 departments that attended a body camera conference hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) for their body camera policies. According to the ACLU’s Sonia Roubini, “Only five of these thirty departments sent me their policies. The remaining twenty-five cited various reasons for not doing so.” Of those five departments only one had its police body camera policy available online.
It is especially important that body camera policies be public because the nature of a police officer’s job means that he will often see citizens at tragic and embarrassing moments. There is an understandable concern related to the release of footage involving not only victims of crime but also children, accidents, and the inside of private residences, hospitals, and schools.
Lawmakers across the U.S. have responded to privacy concerns in a variety of ways. In North Dakota the governor signed a bill exempting police body camera footage “taken in a private place” from public record requests, while in Florida and Michigan lawmakers introduced bills which would limit the release of police body camera footage captured inside a citizen’s home. Florida’s bill, SB 248, would also limit the release of footage captured within “health care, mental health care, or social services” facilities as well as “at the scene of a medical emergency involving a death or involving an injury that requires transport to a medical facility.” Proposed New Hampshire legislation would require police officers to wear body cameras, but would exempt the footage from public record requests.
Civil liberty groups and non-profits have also made body camera policy proposals. Police Executive Research Forum published a paper on implementing a police body camera policy, which recommended that some recordings should be prohibited. Among the recordings PERF recommended prohibiting are those of strips searches, conversations with informants, and those that take place “where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists.”
An ACLU paper said that the release of body camera footage should depend on whether the footage is “flagged” or “unflagged.” Flagged footage would include footage that captures use-of-force incidents, arrests, detentions, or an incident subject to a complaint. Unflagged footage would be footage that does not include the “flagged” incidents just described.
The paper recommends that unflagged footage be deleted after weeks, and that unflagged and unredacted footage should not be released without the consent of the subject. Flagged footage should be available to the public even in cases when redaction is not possible “because in such cases the need for oversight generally outweighs the privacy interests at stake.”
The storing and redaction of body camera footage is a time consuming as well as expensive undertaking. During the time of a police body camera study in Mesa, Arizona, three police body camera videos were forwarded to the Mesa Police Department Video Services Unit. The videos, which ranged from one to two hours long, took a total of 30.5 hours to edit for redaction.1
In May 2015 the Associated Press reported that Cleveland expected to spend at least half a million dollars a year simply to store, maintain, and replace the body cameras. The AP also reported that the combined cost of 1,500 Taser body cameras and the data storage could be up to $3.3 million over five years. The Albany Democrat-Herald reported that body camera footage storage was affecting the court system in Linn County, Oregon. The body cameras being used by two police agencies in the county have significantly contributed to the amount of data being stored by the Linn County District Attorney’s office, which in 2011 had 45 gigabytes of media downloads, compared with 351 gigabytes of downloaded evidence in the first three months of 2015.
Improvements in technology will undoubtedly make the redaction and storage of police body camera footage less expensive. But, for the foreseeable future, the redaction and storage of police body camera footage will continue to impose a significant cost to law enforcement agencies. Indeed, cost is sometimes cited by police agencies as a reason why body cameras have not been deployed. In 2014 PERF conducted a survey of police departments and found that “39 percent of the respondents that do not use body-worn cameras cited cost as a primary reason.”
It is possible that some of the fiscal impact of police body camera footage redaction and storage could be offset by the impact the cameras have on litigation arising from bogus complaints. However, it remains to be seen if that will be the case.
Of course the cost of a police body camera policy will depend in part on what footage is redacted. As noted above, redaction contributes to the cost of body camera programs. A policy that strictly limits redaction of footage captured in public and redacts some material filmed inside a private residence would be less expensive (all else being equal) than a policy that requires a heavy degree of redaction of footage captured in public.
What does the increased use of body cameras mean for American policing?
It is still too soon to tell. As mentioned above, it is not yet clear what effect, if any, body cameras have on citizens or police officers. In addition, it is the case that instances of police misconduct have occurred despite the officers involved wearing body cameras. This shouldn’t be too surprising given that police officers have been caught behaving poorly in front of dash cams.
But, the use of police body cameras is supported across political and racial demographics, as the following graphs based on April 2015 YouGov polling show:2

In the coming years an increasing number of Americans will come to expect that their police officers be equipped with body cameras. Advances in technology will make this expectation more pronounced as the cost of using police body cameras decreases.
While police body cameras do have potential to improve law enforcement accountability and provide extra evidence, they are not a police misconduct panacea. Reducing incidents of police misconduct requires not only body cameras, but also reforms of use-of-force policy and training as well as changes to how police misconduct is investigated.
  • The research on police body cameras is limited but encouraging.
  • Police body cameras do pose privacy concerns, but those concerns can be resolved with the right policies in place.
  • The public widely supports police officers wearing body cameras, but the technology alone is not a panacea for police misconduct.
Suggested readings:
Barak Ariel, William A. Farrar, Alex Sutherland, “The Effect of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Use of Force and Citizens’ Complaints Against the Police: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of Quantitative Criminology, November 2014, doi: http://10.1007/s10940-014-9236-3
Jay Stanley, “Police Body-Mounted Cameras: With Right Policies in Place, a Win For All – version 2.0,” ACLU. March 2015.
Lindsay Miller, Jessica Toliver, and Police Executive Research Forum. 2014. Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program: Recommendations and Lessons Learned. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Michael D. White, 2014. Police Officer Body-Worn Cameras: Assessing the Evidence. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Prepared by Matthew Feeney
1 MPD (Mesa Police Department). 2013 On Officer Body Camera System: Program Evaluation and Recommendations (interim report). Mesa, AZ: Mesa Police Department.
2 Peter Moore, “Overwhelming support for police body cameras,” YouGov. May 7, 2015.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Utah motorcycle advocates rally at State Capitol

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah motorcycle advocates stood with thousands across the nation this week.
At a rally at the Utah State Capitol, advocates called for changes to laws and for police to stop profiling bikers.
“We want them to repeal the helmet law and repeal the handle bar height law,” said “Gonzy”, one of the bikers who attended the event.
Dozens of motorcycle advocates came together this week to stand up for their lifestyle. They’re asking police to stop profiling based on looks.
“There’s no reason to pull us over and just ask us questions when we’ve violated no law,” Gonzy said.
The rally comes two years after a shootout between rival bike gangs left nine people dead in Waco, Texas.  Advocates here in Utah say they're sick of the stigma surrounding motorcycle clubs.
“I’ve been profiled,” said “Boots” of the POBOP Motorcycle Club. “I get pulled over saying I didn’t use a turn signal when in fact I used a turn signal—or I have no insurance, you know, but I keep my insurance card in my pocket. I’m legit, I’m 100 percent legal; but yet they will pull you over and fabricate something, but you won’t get a citation because nothing will hold up in court.”
Biker advocates say there isn't violence in their community, despite what's being portrayed in Hollywood.
“It’s nothing but love, that’s what we’re all about,” said “Taco” of the Forgotten Few Motorcycle Club. “It’s not what you see on TV. We don’t go around fighting each other, nothing. What you see is what you get with us.”
Gonzy agreed.
“We’re Americans here,” Gonzy said. “Whether our motorcycle is our mode of transportation, or our lifestyle, that’s who we are. We have jobs. We’re Americans like everybody else.”
Some riders acknowledged they may look intimidating, but they said it's really about a brotherhood.

“It’s just a big old brotherhood," one biker at the event said. "You know, just because they’re in a different club, we all have the mutual love for bikes. You know, we all go out there and have a good time, and it’s just a big brotherhood and we love it.”

Joke Of The Week

You Know You Are Living In 2017 When…
1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.
2. You haven’t played solitaire with real cards in years.
3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.
4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don’t have e-mail addresses.
6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries…
7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.
8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn’t even have the first 20 or 30 or 60 years of your life, is now a cause for panic, and you turn around to go and get it.
10. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.
11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )
12. You’re reading this and nodding and laughing.
13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.
14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.
15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn’t a #9 on this list .

NOW you’re laughing at yourself! “Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused!”
Go on, forward this to your friends. You know you want to!

Federal Appeals Court Sides with PINAC Reporter, Rules Recording Cops is Protected by First Amendment.

The U.S. Court of Appeals Court for the Fifth Circuit has ruled in a 2-1 decision that the public has the First Amendment right to record activities of law enforcement because it ensures cops "are not abusing their power."
Follow Photography Is Not A Crime!

The U.S. Court of  Appeals Court for the Fifth Circuit has ruled in a 2-1 decision that the public has the First Amendment right to record activities of law enforcement because it ensures cops “are not abusing their power.”
The majority ruling came in response to the court’s consideration of the facts in Turner v. Driver, a lawsuit filed by PINAC video-correspondent and reporter Phillip Turner following his lengthy detainment by two Fort Worth cops in September 2015 after he refused to provide them with  identification while attempting to record the Fort Worth police station across the street.
While recording the station, two Fort Worth officers named Grinalds and Dyess approached Turner, asking for identification.

“How’s it going, man? Got your ID with you?”
In the video, seen below, Turner, who operates the YouTube channel The Battousai, asks the officers if he’s being detained.
Officer Grinalds affirmed Turner was being detained for an investigation and began down the rabbit hole using alarmist rhetoric saying he had the “right” and “authority” to know who was “walking around our facilities.”
Turner chose to flex his rights, refusing to provide identification or state his name.
Instead, he inquired, “what happens if I don’t identify myself?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” officer Grinalds says, continues repeating his request for Turner to identify.
Turner continues denying Grinalds’ requests.
Then, without warning, Grinalds suddenly handcuffs Turner and seizes his camera.
“This is what happens when you don’t identify yourself,” he spited Turner, threatening to fingerprint him in order to learn his identity before leaving him in the back of the patrol car to “sweat for a while with the windows rolled up.”
Turner bangs on the door, saying  no air was reaching the back seat.
A supervisor, Lieutenant Driver, arrived and approached Grinalds and Dyess who “seemingly ignored Mr. Turner” as  he “sweat” inside the patrol car with no air.
The three officers then rolled down the windows to the patrol car, found Turner lying down in the back seat and asked him what he was doing.
Turner explained again he was taking pictures from the sidewalk across the street.
Lt. Driver repeated the request for Turner’s identification.
Turner refused once again saying he chose not to provide the officers with identification because he hadn’t committed a crime and wasn’t lawfully under arrest.
“You’re right,” says Lt. Driver before walking away to talk to Grinalds and Dyess.
Driver returns to talk to Turner.
“You guys need to let me go because I haven’t done anything wrong,” Turner tells Driver.
Driver walks away again, makes a phone call and talks again with Grinalds and Dyess.
The three officers returned to the patrol car, lecturing Turner with more alarmist cop rhetoric before finally releasing him.
In October 2015, Turner named Driver, Grinalds and Dyess as defendants in a civil rights lawsuit, suing them in their individual capacities, alleging the trio violated his First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
However, the trial court dismissed the case granting the officers qualified immunity from being sued because Turner failed to show how his First Amendment right to record police was clearly established.
Upon appeal, the Fifth Circuit concurred with the trial court’s ruling because the right to record the police hadn’t been ruled on by the Fifth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court, but ultimately concluded the First Amendment right to record police does exist, ruling that for future cases, the court would hold citizens do have that right with time, manner and place restrictions.
“Four other circuits have made that determination and no circuit has ruled otherwise,”  Senior Judge Jacques Wiener wrote.
“Filming the police contributes to the public’s ability to hold the police accountable, ensure that police officers are not abusing their power, and make informed decisions about police policy,” Wiener wrote in the February 16 opinion. “Filming the police also frequently helps officers: for example, a citizen’s recording might corroborate a probable cause finding or might even exonerate an officer charged with wrongdoing.”
Upholding the trial court’s First Amendment rulings, the Fifth Circuit ruled the trial court judge erred by dismissing the Grinalds’ and Dyess’ qualified immunity claims for detaining Turner without having probable cause a crime had occurred.
So the appeals court ruled while Grinalds and Dyess were immune to Turner’s First Amendment claims because the right was not clearly established at the time he was detained.
But from February 18 forward, the Fifth Circuit concludes “that First Amendment principles, controlling authority, and persuasive precedent demonstrate that a First Amendment right to record the police does exist, subject only to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.”
“The officers’ handcuffing Turner and placing him in the patrol car, as alleged in the amended complaint, were not reasonable under the circumstances,” the court ruled.
For more analysis of the decision, read the article on Techdirt.

High Speed Pursuits

High speed police pursuits constitute one of the most dangerous aspects of police work. Police shootings garner more attention, but many people are killed or severely injured as a result of fleeing suspects and pursuing police officers. Hollywood movies typically depict police officers in “hot pursuit” of a dangerous criminal, but virtually never depict wholly innocent people, such as child passengers in the suspect’s vehicle, or pedestrian bystanders, being killed in crashes and yet they are among the casualties of high speed chases. Pursuit policies vary among police departments and in different geographical jurisdictions depending upon whether a city, county, or state legislature has chosen to address police pursuits. This primer will provide an overview of this controversial subject and will recommend that police commanders and policymakers impose restrictions on police pursuits in order to enhance public safety.
The Controversy
When a police officer activates his vehicle’s siren and emergency lights, drivers are legally obligated to yield to that show of authority and to pull their vehicles over to the side of the road to await further instructions from the officer. It is illegal for a driver to disregard the siren or emergency lights—especially in an attempt to elude the police. In the vast majority of cases, drivers comply with the law and pull over to the side of the road. However, there are thousands and thousands of cases every year where drivers break the law and try to speed away and elude the police. When those situations arise, the police face a dilemma. On the one hand, they are expected to apprehend lawbreakers and keep the community safe. If they don’t pursue the violator, he might never be caught and he might also harm others as he accelerates in his bid to get away. On the other hand, the pursuit itself creates a danger by having another vehicle, the police cruiser, attempting to match the now reckless speed of the suspect vehicle.
When people get killed or injured in crashes from police pursuits, a heated debate typically ensues over the cause of the accident. Was it the suspect’s failure to pull over, or was it the police officer’s decision to pursue the suspect at high speeds? Here are a few chases that ended with tragic results:
  • In June 2016, Officer Stacey Baumgartner was in pursuit of a man who had allegedly urinated in public, and then drove away. As Baumgartner’s cruiser sped into an intersection, she was hit by an SUV carrying a family of seven. Both Baumgartner and an 11-year-old boy in the SUV died in the crash.
  • In May 2013, police received a call about several women who had stolen some merchandise from Macy’s and departed in a waiting car. Several police cars chased the women’s vehicle at speeds exceeding 100 mph. The women eventually sped down a freeway exit ramp, ran a red light, and then crashed into Rosabla Quezada, who was driving her three sons home from school. Quezada was killed and her 5-year-old son, Jose, was left with brain damage.
  • In June 2013, high school senior Patrick Conway was out riding his Honda motorcycle. A state trooper pulled him over because he did not have a license plate. As the trooper stepped out of his cruiser, Conway sped off. A few minutes later, after weaving through traffic at high speeds, Conway collided with a BMW and was killed.
  • In July 2012, a convenience store manager called the police at 4 a.m. to report that some teenage girls had just shoplifted some merchandise and had driven away. When a police officer spotted the suspect vehicle, he gave chase. A few minutes later, the carload of young girls crashed into a utility pole. One of the passengers, 12-year-old Casey Grace, was sent to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she was listed in critical condition.
  • In September 2012, Officer Mark Taulbee heard a radio dispatch at 2:30 a.m. that a man had taken a woman’s car after a domestic disturbance. When Taulbee saw the Nissan Altima, he started to pursue it. Shortly thereafter, Taulbee was killed after he lost control of his car and it flipped over into a ditch on the side of the roadway.
It is true that the suspect-driver is always partially responsible (and sometimes fully responsible) for any property damage or crash casualties because, as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once observed, it takes at least two drivers to have a chase.
And yet it is not uncommon to find police officials trying to shift all responsibility for any harmful consequences on to the suspect-driver with the argument that had the suspect simply pulled over, as he is legally obligated to do, there would not have been any crash casualties. That sweeping claim is misleading and self-serving. If an elderly lady obstinately refuses a police command to step out of her parked vehicle, the officer would not be justified in hitting her over the head with a baton. Similarly, if a shoplifter keeps running after an officer shouts “Halt!” the officer would not be justified in shooting him in the back. Disobedience to governmental authority cannot excuse brutality. By the same reasoning, police pursuits can and should be evaluated separately from the suspect’s wrongful actions.
Best Practices
Federal appellate Judge Frank Easterbrook has suggested a cost-benefit analysis of high-speed chases. According to Easterbrook, such an analysis would “consider not only the risks to passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers that high-speed chases engender, but also the fact that if police are forbidden to pursue, then many more suspects will flee—and successful flights not only reduce the number of crimes solved but also create their own risks for passengers and bystanders.” A rigorous academic analysis is beyond the scope of this primer, but it will be useful to briefly address several preconceptions that would be pertinent to such an analysis, and also to consider the experience of certain jurisdictions that have embraced pursuit restrictions.
The first preconception is that if high-speed pursuits are restricted, “everyone will just go ahead and flee the police.” This is an exaggeration. As noted above, in the vast majority of cases, drivers yield to the police siren and quickly pull over. To do otherwise is to commit a new offense, something the vast majority of people will refrain from doing. Limiting pursuits may bring about some increase in flight cases, but that would likely be on the margin and has to be weighed against the crashes and injuries averted because of the pursuit restrictions.
A second preconception is that high speed pursuits typically involve dangerous criminals. The thinking here is that restricting pursuits cannot possibly make the community safer because with more violent offenders avoiding arrest, they will be free to create more mayhem in the community. This preconception is perhaps understandable because it is a very common scenario in the movies and on television for the police to be chasing a dangerous villain at high speeds. Yet, experience shows that most pursuits are triggered by minor infractions. According to USA Today, 90 percent of the police chases in California between 2002 and 2014 were for vehicle code violations, not violent crimes.
A third preconception is the idea that restrictions on police pursuits are tantamount to complete non-enforcement of law. On this view, restrictions on police pursuits will make the community less safe because the scofflaws will be emboldened to commit even more infractions—even if they’re not violent offenses. It is a mistake, however, to make the leap from certain pursuit restrictions to non-enforcement. To take one example, some police departments will have police cruisers back off a chase on the ground but have a helicopter track the suspect vehicle from above. When the suspect exits the vehicle, patrol officers are alerted and they will then move in to make an arrest.
As noted above, pursuit policies vary among America’s 18,000 police departments. In general, policies and practices have tightened somewhat over the past 20 years. Whether because of increased media scrutiny, litigation fears, local politics, or conscientiousness, more and more departments are embracing pursuit restrictions. Here are several best practices:
  • Some departments restrict the types of crimes that can trigger a chase. For example, allowing police to chase a suspect who committed a violent felony, but not allowing pursuits for traffic violations.
  • Some restrictive policies focus on road conditions, including weather and traffic.
  • Some departments prohibit certain tactics used by officers during a pursuit in order to minimize the risk of an accident, such as ramming techniques.
  • Most importantly, many jurisdictions require officers to get supervisor permission in order to initiate a pursuit. The purpose of this requirement is to take the decision out of the hands of the officer in the field, who is likely experiencing an adrenaline rush and tunnel vision.
To identify best practices is not to say that they are common. It is unfortunate that many police departments either continue to leave the pursuit decision to the discretion of officers in the field, or do not seriously discipline officers who disregard departmental policy. Policy changes are too often ad hoc, after a tragedy, rather than after thoughtful consideration of the latest research.
There is empirical evidence, for example, showing that suspects are likely to slow down to a safe driving speed if pursuits are called off. University of South Carolina Professor Geoffrey Alpert interviewed suspects after they were apprehended and found that 70 percent of suspects said they would have stopped their flight when they “felt safe.” They classified “safe” as being 2 miles or 2 city blocks ahead of police.
In 2010, the Milwaukee Police Department put in a place a more restrictive policy after pursuits caused the deaths of four innocent people in a short period of time. After the first tragedy, Police Chief Ed Flynn defended his department by telling everyone that the chase officers “followed department policy.” After the second tragedy, Chief Flynn came to recognize that another policy would make his community safer. Chief Flynn acknowledged that his immediate duty is “to protect life: the lives of the innocent, the lives of police officers and the lives of offenders.”
In 2006, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) put in place one of the most restrictive pursuit policies in the country. In 2011, while slightly altering the pursuit guidelines, the Dallas Chief of Police David Brown noted, “injuries and deaths to both officers and citizens have plummeted since the institution of the current policy. This must continue to be our focus when deciding to engage in high-risk activities such as police pursuits.” DPD restricts pursuits to situations where the suspect “poses a danger to the public that outweighs the risks posed by the pursuit” – e.g. violent felonies.
One important way to avoid tragedies is to find alternatives to high speed chases. “Bait vehicle” technologies have provided law enforcement with a powerful tool to catch car thieves in a safe and effective manner. With the ability to shut down the engine of the bait car remotely, there is no need for a high-speed pursuit. Another alternative tactic, as mentioned above, is helicopters. While helicopters are expensive and not all police departments can afford them, it would be worthwhile to improve regional and interagency cooperation in order to avoid, or at least reduce, high-speed pursuits. Drones will doubtless be tested for pursuit surveillance as a less expensive substitute for helicopters over the next ten years.
A serious obstacle that has hobbled a thorough cost-benefit analysis of police pursuits has been inadequate information. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tries to track the circumstances of all automobile fatalities. According to NHTSA, pursuits kill about 350 people every year. However, NHTSA’s tally has severe limitations. First, NHTSA only tallies deaths, not injuries. Second, even NHTSA’s fatality numbers are very likely to undercount the actual figure. This is because NHTSA relies upon police department reports on the automobile deaths. If the fleeing suspect hits a tree and dies, officers might report the fatality, but omit the circumstances of the police pursuit. USA Today discovered and reported on such discrepancies in NHTSA’s statistics.
In 2014, Texas created a public statewide database for officer-involved shootings. Every police agency must report shootings to the state attorney general. The attorney general (AG), in turn, is required to post information about the shooting within five days. Each year, the AG must issue a public report summarizing his annual findings. Unlike some questionable proposals for federal data-collection, this state-level data-gathering model is fully consistent with the constitutional principle of federalism. Every state should have such a system in place, not just for shootings, but for police chases as well, whether there are casualties or not. One of the benefits of decentralized policing is that departments can experiment with different policies, the results can then be studied, and best practices identified or refined. To make the reporting model work, however, state policymakers must find a way to sanction local departments that do not meet their reporting responsibilities.
  • High speed police pursuits are inherently dangerous. They too often end in crashes that kill and severely injure people, including innocent bystanders.
  • Many police pursuits are in response to non-violent offenses or even minor infractions. The risks posed by high speed pursuits in such situations are unjustified.
  • The legal standards that apply to police pursuits vary across jurisdictions, but it is possible to embrace best practices that go beyond the legal minimum standard.
  • Although there are about 100,000 police pursuits and hundreds of casualties every year, policymakers have largely neglected this dangerous aspect of police work. State-wide policies should be in place to both restrict and track police pursuits.
Suggested Readings
Geoffrey A. Alpert and Cynthia Lum, Police Pursuit Driving: Policy and Research (New York: Springer, 2014).
Kay Falk, “Chase or Not to Chase?: That’s the Question Facing Police Departments Around the Country,” Law Enforcement Technology, Volume 33, Issue 10 (October 2006).
Thomas Frank, “High-Speed Police Chases Have Killed Thousands of Innocent Bystanders,” USA Today, July 30, 2015.
Hugh Nugent, et al., “Restrictive Policies for High-Speed Police Pursuits” (Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, Issues and Practices Series No. 122025) (1990).
Richard G. Zevitz, “Police Civil Liability and the Law of High Speed Pursuit,” Marquette Law Review 70 (1987): 237.

Prepared by Tim Lynch.


Image may contain: one or more people and camera
Image may contain: 1 person

Monday, May 22, 2017

Preventing Police Abuse

  THE BAD that police abuse is a serious problem. It has a long history, and it seems to defy all attempts at eradication.
 The problem is national -- no police department in the country is known to be completely free of misconduct -- but it must be fought locally. The nation's 19,000 law enforcement agencies are essentially independent. While some federal statutes that specify criminal penalties for willful violations of civil rights and conspiracies to violate civil rights, the United States Department of Justice has been insufficiently aggressive in prosecuting cases of police abuse.
 There are shortcomings, too, in federal law itself, which does not permit "pattern and practice" lawsuits. The battle against police abuse must, therefore, be fought primarily on the local level.
 THE GOOD that the situation is not hopeless. Policing has seen much progress. Some reforms do work, and some types of abuse have been reduced. Today, among both police officials and rank and file officers it is widely recognized that police brutality hinders good law enforcement.
 To fight police abuse effectively, you must have realistic expectations. You must not expect too much of any one remedy because no single remedy will cure the problem. A "mix" of reforms is required. And even after citizen action has won reforms, your community must keep the pressure on through monitoring and oversight to ensure that the reforms are actually implemented.
 Nonetheless, even one person, or a small group of persistent people, can make a big difference. Sometimes outmoded and abusive police practices prevail largely because no one has ever questioned them. In such cases, the simple act of spotlighting a problem can have a powerful effect that leads to reform. Just by raising questions, one person or a few people -- who need not be experts -- can open up some corner of the all-too-secretive and insular world of policing to public scrutiny. Depending on what is revealed, their inquiries can snowball into a full blown examination by the media, the public and politicians.
 You've got to address specific problems. The first step, then, is to identify exactly what the police problems are in your city. What's wrong with your police department is not necessarily the same as what's wrong in another city. Police departments are different in size, quality of management, local traditions and the severity of problems. Some departments are gravely corrupt; others are relatively "clean" but have poor relations with community residents. Also, a city's political environment, which affects both how the police operate and the possibilities for achieving reform, is different in every city. For example, it is often easier to reform police procedures in cities that have a tradition of "good government," or in cities where minorities are well organized politically.
The range of police problems includes:
Excessive use of deadly force.
Excessive use of physical force.
Discriminatory patterns of arrest.
Patterns of harassment of such "undesirables" as the homeless, youth, minorities and gays, including aggressive and discriminatory use of the "stop-and-frisk" and overly harsh enforcement of petty offenses.
Chronic verbal abuse of citizens, including racist, sexist and homophobic slurs.
Discriminatory non-enforcement of the law, such as the failure to respond quickly to calls in low-income areas, and half-hearted investigations of domestic violence, rape or hate crimes.
Spying on political activists.
Employment discrimination -- in hiring, promotion and assignments, and internal harassment of minority, women and gay or lesbian police personnel.
The "code of silence" and retaliation against officers who report abuse and/or support reforms.
 Overreaction to "gang" problems, which is driven by the assumption that most or all associational activity is gang-related. This includes illegal mass stops and arrests, and demanding photo IDs from young men based on their race and dress instead of their criminal conduct.
 The "war on drugs," with its overboard searches and other tactics that endanger innocent bystanders. This "war" wastes scarce resources on unproductive "buy and bust" operations to the neglect of more promising community-based approaches.
Lack of accountability, such as the failure to discipline or prosecute abusive officers, and the failure to deter abuse by denying promotions and/or particular assignments because of prior abusive behavior.
 Crowd control tactics that infringe on free expression rights and lead to unnecessary use of physical force.
 The first thing to bear in mind about the "homework" community residents have to do in order to build a strong case for reform is that obtaining the most relevant information on the activities of your police department can be a tough task. In answer to critics, police chiefs often cite various official data to support their claim that they are really doing a great job. "Look at the crime rate," they say, "it's lower than in other cities." Or: "My department's arrest rate is much higher than elsewhere." The catch is that these data, though readily available to citizens, are deeply flawed, while the most telltale information is not always easy to get.
 FORGET The "Crime Rate." The "crime rate" figures cited by government officials are based on the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) system, which has several serious flaws. To name only a few: First, the UCR only measures reported crime.
 Second, since the system is not independently audited there are no meaningful controls over how police departments use their crime data. Police officers can and do "unfounded" crimes, meaning they decide that no crime occurred. They also "downgrade" crimes -- for example, by officially classifying a rape as an assault. Third, reports can get "lost," either deliberately or inadvertently.
 There are many other technical problems that make the UCR a dubious measure of the extent of crime problems. The National Crime Survey (NCS), published by another part of the U.S. Justice Department, provides a far more accurate estimate of the national crime rate and of long-term trends in crime. But it is a national-level estimate and does not provide data on individual cities. So the NCS isn't much help on the local level.
 FORGET The "Clearance Rate." A police department's official data on its "clearance rate," which refers to the percentage of crimes solved, do not accurately reflect that department's performance. The fact that one department "clears" 40 percent of all robberies, compared with 25 percent by another department, doesn't necessarily mean it is more effective. There are too many ways to manipulate the data, either by claiming a larger number of crimes "cleared" (inflating the numerator), or by artificially lowering the number of reported crimes (lowering the denominator).
 FORGET The arrest rate. Police officers have broad discretion in making and recording arrests. The Police Foundation (in Washington, D.C.), which conducts research on policing issues, has found great variations among police departments in their recording of arrests. In many departments, police officers take people into custody, hold them at the station, question and then release them without filling out an arrest report. For all practical purposes, these people were "arrested," but their arrests don't show up in the official data. Other departments record such arrests. Thus, the department that reports a lower number of arrests may actually be taking more people into custody than the department that reports more arrests.
 FORGET The citizen complaint rate. Official data on the complaints filed by citizens regarding police conduct are important but present a number of problems. Many departments do not release any information on this subject. Some publish a smattering of information on complaints and the percentage of complaints sustained by the department. In more and more cities, the civilian review agency publishes this data.
 Data on citizen complaints are difficult to interpret. Some examples: In 1990, it was widely reported that San Francisco, with less than 2,000 police officers, had more citizen complaints than Los Angeles, which has more than 8,000 officers. What that may mean, however, is that Los Angeles residents are afraid to file reports or don't believe it would do any good. San Francisco has a relatively independent civilian review process, which may encourage the filing of more complaints. Also in 1990, New York City reported a decline from previous years in the number of citizen complaints filed. But many analysts believe that simply reflected New Yorkers' widespread disillusionment with their civilian review board. Citizen complaints filed in Omaha, Nebraska doubled after the mayor allowed people to file their complaints at City Hall, as well as the police department.
Another problem is that in some police departments with internal affairs systems, officers often try to dissuade people from filing formal complaints that will later become part of an officer's file. And the number of complaints counted is also affected by whether or not the internal affairs system accepts anonymous complaints and complaints by phone or mail, or requires in-person, sworn statements.
 Thus, the official "complaint rate" (complaints per 1,000 citizens), rather than being a reliable measure of police performance, more than likely reflects the administrative customs of a particular police department.
 Police shootings. You need to know about police firearms discharges, which refer to the number of times a police weapon has been fired. This information is more complete than statistics on the number of persons shot and wounded or killed. (However, information on the race of persons shot and wounded or killed is important.) Particularly important is information on repeat shooters, which can tell you whether some officers fire their weapons at a suspiciously high rate.
 With this information, you can evaluate the use of deadly force in your department. You can also evaluate the long-term trends in shootings. Are shootings increasing or decreasing? Has there been a recent upsurge? How does the department compare with other departments -- are officers shooting at a significantly higher rate in your department than elsewhere?
*Do some officers shoot more often than others? *Do white officers shoot more often that black officers? *Do young officers shoot more often than veteran officers?
 The most detailed analysis of police shootings was produced by James Fyfe, a former police officer who is now a criminologist and expert on police practices. He concluded that the single most important factor determining patterns of shooting is place of assignment. Fyfe's findings showed that: Black and white officers assigned to similar precincts fired their weapons at essentially the same rate; since new officers are assigned to less desirable, high crime precincts based on the seniority system, younger officers shoot more often than older officers; and since a disproportionate number of black officers are young due to recent affirmative action programs, black officers shoot more often than white officers -- but as a function of assignment, not race.
 Fyfe found significant differences in shooting patterns between police departments. The overall shooting rate in some departments was significantly higher than in others, a disparity that he attributed to differences in department policy.
 SOURCE: James J. Fyfe, "Who Shoots? - - A Look At Officer, Race And Police Shooting." Journal of Police Science And Administration; Volume 9, December 1981; pp. 367-382.
 B. Use of physical force. You need to know how frequently, day to day, police officers in your city use physical force in the course of their encounters with citizens. Do officers try to refrain from using such force against citizens, or do they quickly and casually resort to force?
 In its report on the Los Angeles police department in the aftermath of the March 1991 beating of Rodney King, the Christopher Commission confirmed a long held suspicion: a small number of officers are involved in an extraordinarily high percentage of use of force incidents. Ten percent of the officers accounted for 33.2% of all use of force incidents. The Commission was able to identify 44 such officers who were not disciplined despite the fact that they were the subjects of numerous citizen complaints.
 In 1981, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission found a similar pattern in Houston and recommended, as a remedy, that police departments establish "early warning systems" to identify officers with high rates of citizen complaints.
 Patterns in the use of physical force reveal a lot about the "culture" of a particular police department. Clearly, a department whose officers repeatedly engage in physically coercive conduct needs reform. Police officials often deny that their personnel are prone to using force inappropriately, so if your community believes it has a problem in this area citizens must be able to support their claims with existing data, or data they have gathered themselves.
  These data indicate a clear pattern of racial discrimination. The disparity between whites and blacks shot and killed is extreme in the category of persons "unarmed and not assaultive." These are classic "fleeing felon" situations in which, prior to 1985, Memphis Police Department policy and the common law of many states permitted officers to use deadly force. In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for a police officer to shoot a suspected felon in flight who does not pose an immediate danger to the officer or public. The case -- Tennessee v. Garner -- involved Edward Garner, a 15 year-old black youth who, though unarmed, was shot and killed while trying to flee the scene of a suspected burglary.
Person Shot and Killed Number Shot and Killed White Black
Armed and Assaultive 5 7
Unarmed and Assaultive 2 6
Unarmed and Not Assaultive 1 13
 In examining official policies, you need to evaluate them in comparison to recommended standards.
 D. Lawsuits. You need to know how many lawsuits citizens have filed against your local police department. You want to know what the charges were, the number of officers involved, whether certain officers are named repeatedly in suits, what was the outcome and, in the case of successful suits, how much did the city pay in damages.
 The number of lawsuits filed against a police department can be very revealing. For example, the Los Angeles Times reported that the city paid $64 million (of citizens' tax money!) in damages for abuses by the Los Angeles Police Department and county sheriff's office in just three years -- 1989-1991. In 1990 alone, New York City paid victims of police misconduct a record high of more than $13 million. This kind of information can be used to mobilize middle-class taxpayers and "good-government" activists, who can then be brought into a community coalition against police abuse.
 E. Minority employment. You need to know how many African Americans, panics, Asians, other minorities and women are employed by your police department and their distribution throughout the department's ranks.
 This information is useful in assessing, again, the "culture" of your local police department -- is it internally diverse, fair and equitable? It also suggests how much value the department places on the "human relations" aspects of its work, and how responsive it is to community concerns.
 Police business is generally shrouded in secrecy, which conceals outdated policies and departmental inertia, encourages cover-ups and, of course, breeds public suspicion. But remember: Police departments are an arm of government, and *the government's business is your business*. Police policies, procedures, memoranda, records, reports, tape recordings, etc. should not be withheld from public view unless their release would threaten on-going investigations, endanger officers or others, or invade someone's personal privacy.
 Demanding information about police practices is an important part of the struggle to establish police accountability. Indeed, a campaign focused solely on getting information from the police can serve as a vehicle for organizing a community to tackle police abuse. Regarding all of the following categories, one of the tactics your community could employ is to interest a local investigative journalist in seeking information from the police for a series of articles. Once in hand, the information is a tool for holding the police accountable for their actions.
 Police Shootings. Virtually every big city police department has this information on hand, since officers are required to file a report after every firearms discharge. Departments are supposed to publish a summary of weapons discharges every year, but they don't usually release the information voluntarily. Strong civilian review boards in a few cities now publish the information. As for repeat shooters, this information exists in police reports but police departments vigorously resist identifying repeat shooters. There are several ways to proceed:
(1) As an organizing strategy, demand that the police department publish this data, identify the repeaters and take appropriate remedial action (counseling, retraining, formal discipline, transfer, etc.)
(2) Alternatively, since it isn't essential that officers be identified by name, demand that they be identified simply by a code number, which can focus public attention on the problem of excessive shooters.
(3) Visit your local civilian review agency, if one exists. These agencies often have the authority to collect and release a range of information about local police conduct.
 Police work remains dangerous, and many police officers contend that they need greater freedom to use deadly force today because of the increase in heavily armed drug gangs.
 But in fact, police work is much less dangerous than it used to be. The number of officers killed in the line of duty is half of what it was nearly 20 years ago. According to the FBI, the number of officers killed dropped from 134 in 1973 to 67 in 1990. That reduced death rate is even more dramatic considering the increase in the number of police officers on duty in the field.
Police officers have not been the victims of "drive-by" gang shootings. Innocent by-standers and rival gang members have been the victims.
The police do not need more firepower.
B. Physical Force. There are three potential sources of data on police use of physical force.
(1) Data developed by community residents. Community residents can make a significant contribution to documenting physical force abuses and, in the process, organize. They can bear witness to, and record, abuse incidents, take information from others who have witnessed incidents, refute police department arguments that there is no problem and help document the inadequacies of the police department's official complaint review process.
 The San Diego chapter of the ACLU's Southern California affiliate set up "police hotline," which is listed in the Yellow Pages, to receive complaints about the police. The chapter's first report on the hotline, issued in August 1990, offers some useful information about complaint patterns. The Police Watch in Los Angeles compiles similar data. To receive a copy of the San Diego ACLU report, write to the ACLU/San Diego, 1202 Kettner Boulevard, Suite 6200, San Diego, CA 92101, or call (619) 232-2121. Police Watch can be contacted at 611 South Catalina, Suite 409, Los Angeles, CA 90005; (213)387-3325.
(2) Formal complaints filed by citizens. Most police departments do not make this information public. Some publish summary data in their annual report, so consult that document. In a number of cities, civilian review agencies publish it, so check with that agency in your city. The annual reports of the New York City Citizen Complaint Review Board (CCRB) and San Francisco's Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC) provide fairly detailed summaries.
(3) Internal police reports. An increasing number of police departments require officers to fill out reports after any use of physical force. This is a larger set of data than the citizen complaints would provide, since many citizens don't file complaints even when they have cause to do so. Ask to see these reports.
C. Official Policies. Your police department has a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual (it may have another title) that contains the official policies of the department. The SOP manual is a public document and should be readily available. Some departments place current copies in local libraries. Others treat it as an internal document not available to the public -- which is unacceptable. Demand to see the manual, if your department withholds it. As a last resort, you can file suit under your state's open records law to obtain the SOP manual.
D. Lawsuits. Lawsuits brought against police departments are matters of public record. Records of suits brought in state courts reside at your local state courthouse; of suits brought in federal district court, at your local federal courthouse. The Lexis computer database is a source of published opinions in civilian suits brought against the police. However, collecting information from any of these sources is a very laborious task. Better to contact your local ACLU affiliate and/or other relevant public interest groups, which may have done most of the work for you. In the back of this manual, find the name and address of your local ACLU and other organizations.
E. Minority Employment. Official data on this issue are generally reliable and available from your local police department. If the police stonewall, you can get the information from the city's personnel division. The point is to evaluate the police department's minority employment record relative to local conditions.
 Using current data, compare the percentage of a particular group of people in the local population with that group's representation on the police force. If, for example, Hispanic Americans are 30 percent of the population but only 15 percent of the sworn officers, the your police department is only half way toward achieving an ideal level of diversity.
 Civilian review of police activity was first proposed in the 1950s because of widespread dissatisfaction with the internal disciplinary procedures of police departments. Many citizens didn't believe that police officials took their complaints seriously. They suspected officials of investigating allegations of abuse superficially at best, and of covering up misconduct. The theory underlying the concept of civilian review is that civilian investigations of citizen complaints are more independent because they are conducted by people who are not sworn officers.
 At first, civilian review was a dream few thought would ever be fulfilled. But slow, steady progress has been made, indicating that it's an idea whose time has come. By the end of 1991, more than 60 percent of the nation's 50 largest cities had civilian review systems, half of which were established between 1986 and 1991.
Civilian review advocates in every city have had to overcome substantial resistance from local police departments. One veteran of the struggle for civilian review has chronicled the stages of police opposition as follows:
> the "over our dead bodies" stage, during which police will not accept any type of civilian oversight under any circumstances;
> the "magical conversion" stage, when it becomes politically inevitable that civilian review will be adopted. At this point, former police opponents suddenly become civilian review experts and propose the weakest possible models; Strong community advocacy is necessary to overcome resistance at every stage, even after civilian review is established.
Confusion reigns about civilian review systems because they vary tremendously.
 Some are more "civilian" than others. Some are not boards but municipal agencies headed by an executive director (who has been appointed by, and is accountable to, the mayor).
The three basic types of civilian review systems are:
(1) Type I. Persons who are not sworn officers conduct the initial fact-finding. They submit an investigative report to a non-officer or board of non-officers, requesting a recommendation of discipline or leniency. This process is the most independent and most "civilian."
(2) Type II. Sworn officers conduct the initial fact-finding. They submit an investigative report to a non-officer or board of non-officers for a recommendation.
(3) Type III. Sworn officers conduct the initial fact-finding and make a recommendation to the police chief. If the aggrieved citizen is not satisfied with the chief's action on the complaint, he or she may appeal to aboard that includes non-officers. Obviously, this process is the least independent.
 Although the above are the most common, other types of civilian review systems also exist.
1 Independence. The power to conduct hearings, subpoena witnesses and report findings and recommendations to the public.
2 Investigatory Power. The authority to independently investigate incidents and issue findings on complaints.
3 Mandatory Police Cooperation. Complete access to police witnesses and documents through legal mandate or subpoena power.
4 Adequate Funding. Should not be a lower budget priority than police internal affairs systems.
5 Hearings. Essential for solving credibility questions and enhancing public confidence in process.
6 Reflect Community Diversity. Board and staff should be broadly representative of the community it serves.
7 Policy Recommendations. Civilian oversight can spot problem policies and provide a forum for developing reforms.
8 Statistical Analysis. Public statistical reports can detail trends in allegations, and early warning systems can identify officers who are subjects of unusually numerous complaints.
9 Separate Offices. Should be housed away from police headquarters to maintain independence and credibility with public.
10 Disciplinary Role. Board findings should be considered in determining appropriate disciplinary action.
 Civilian review establishes the principle of police accountability. Strong evidence exists to show that a complaint review system encourages citizens to act on their grievances. Even a weak civilian review process is far better than none at all.
 A civilian review agency can be an important source of information about police misconduct. A civilian agency is more likely to compile and publish data on patterns of misconduct, especially on officers with chronic problems, than is a police internal affairs agency.
 Civilian review can alert police administrators to the steps they must take to curb abuse in their departments. Many well-intentioned police officials have failed to act decisively against police brutality because internal investigations didn't provide them with the facts.
 The existence of a civilian review agency, a reform in itself, can help ensure that other needed reforms are implemented. A police department can formulate model policies aimed at deterring and punishing misconduct, but those policies will be meaningless unless a system is in place to guarantee that the policies are aggressively enforced.
 Civilian review works, if only because it's at least a vast improvement over the police policing themselves. Nearly all existing civilian review systems reduce public reluctance to file complaints; reduce procedural barriers to filing complaints; enhance the likelihood that statistical reporting on complaints will be more complete; enhance the likelihood of an independent review of abuse allegations; foster confidence in complainants that they will get their "day in court" through the hearing process; increase scrutiny of police policies that lead to citizen complaints, and increase opportunities for other reform efforts.
 Your community's campaign should seek the strongest possible civilian review system, one that is fully independent and designed for easy access. But if all you can get adopted is a weak system, take it with the understanding that once it's created you can press for changes to make it more independent and effective.
 Police misconduct in the use of deadly force is an area in which considerable progress has been made. Although the rate of deadly force abuse is still intolerably high, national data reveal reductions, by as much as 35-to-40 percent in our 50 largest cities, in the number of persons shot and killed by the police since the mid-1970s. This has been accompanied by a significant reduction in the racial disparities among persons shot and killed: since the 1970s, from about six minority persons to one white person, down to three minority persons to one white.
 This progress serves as a model for controlling other forms of police behavior.
  How was it achieved?  In the mid-1970s, police departments began to develop restrictive internal policies on the use of deadly force. These embodied the "defense of life" standard, which allows the use of deadly force only when the life of an officer or some other person is in danger. In 1985, the Supreme Court finally upheld this standard in the case of Tennessee v. Garner (see sidebar, "Racial Discrimination in Police Shootings"). However, the majority of policies adopted by police departments go beyond the courts Garner decision, prohibiting warning shots, shots to wound, and other reckless actions. Most important, these policies require officers to file written reports after each firearms discharge, and require that those reports be automatically reviewed by higher-ranking officers.

To meet goal #2, your community must:
(1) Ensure that the police department has a highly restrictive deadly force policy. Most big city departments do. But the national trend data on shootings suggest that medium-sized and small departments have not caught up with the big cities, so much remains to be done there. Much remains to be done as well in county sheriff and state police agencies, which have not been subject to the same scrutiny as big city police departments.
(2) Ensure enforcement of the deadly force policy through community monitoring.
To be accountable, the police department and/or the local civilian review agency should publish summary data on shooting incidents.
Citizens should also be able to find out whether the department disciplines officers who violate its policy, and whether certain officers are repeatedly involved in questionable incidents.
POLICY: The Houston Police Department places its highest value on the life and safety of its officers and the public. The department's policies, rules and procedures are designed to ensure that this value guides police officers' use of firearms.
RULES: The policy stated above is the basis of the following set of rules that have been designed to guide officers in all cases involving the use of firearms:
*The citizens of Houston have vested in their police officers the power to carry and use firearms in the exercise of their service to society. This power is based on trust and, therefore, must be balanced by a system of accountability.
 The serious consequences of the use of firearms by police officers necessitate the specification of limits for officers' discretion; there is often no appeal from an officer's decision to use a firearm. Therefore, it is imperative that every effort be made to ensure that such use is not only legally warranted but also rational and humane.
*The basic responsibility of police officers to protect life also requires that they exhaust all other reasonable means for apprehension and control before resorting to the use of firearms. Police officers are equipped with firearms as a means of last resort to protect themselves and others from the immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury.
*Even though all officers must be prepared to use their firearms when necessary, the utmost restraint must be exercised in their use. Consequently, no officer will be disciplined for discharging a firearm in self-defense or in defense of another when faced with a situation that immediately threatens life or serious bodily injury. Just as important, no officer will be disciplined for not discharging a firearm if that discharge might threaten the life or safety of an innocent person, or if the discharge is not clearly warranted by the policy and rules of the department. 

Page 2
 *Above all, this department values the safety of its employees and the public.
 Likewise it believes that police officers should use firearms with a high degree of restraint. Officers' use of firearms, therefore, shall never be considered routine and is permissible only in defense of life and then only after all alternative means have been exhausted.
RULE 1: Police officers shall not discharge their firearms except to protect themselves or another person from imminent death or serious bodily injury.
RULE 2: Police officers shall discharge their firearms only when doing so will not endanger innocent persons.
RULE 3: Police officers shall not discharge their firearms to threaten or subdue persons whose actions are destructive to property or injurious to themselves but which do not represent an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or others.
RULE 4: Police officers shall not discharge their firearms to subdue an escaping suspect who presents no imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.
RULE 5: Police officers shall not discharge their weapons at a moving vehicle unless it is absolutely necessary to do so to protect against an imminent threat to the life of the officer or others.
RULE 6: Police officers when confronting an oncoming vehicle shall attempt to move out of the path, if possible, rather than discharge their firearms at the oncoming vehicle.
RULE 7: Police officers shall not intentionally place themselves in the path of an oncoming vehicle and attempt to disable the vehicle by discharging their firearms.
RULE 8: Police officers shall not discharge their firearms at a fleeing vehicle or its driver.
RULE 9: Police officers shall not fire warning shots.
RULE 10: Police officers shall not draw or display their firearms unless there is a threat or probably cause to believe there is a threat to life, or for inspection.
  Your community's principal aim here should be to get the police department to adopt and enforce a written policy governing the use of physical force. This policy should have two parts:
(1) It should explicitly restrict physical force to the narrowest possible range of specific situations. For example, a policy on the use of batons should forbid police officers from striking citizens in "non-target" areas, such as the head and spine, where permanent injuries can result. Mace should be used defensively, not offensively. Since electronic stun guns (Novas and Taser) have great potential for abuse because they don't leave scars or bruises, their use should be strictly controlled, supervised and reviewed.
(2) It should require that a police officer file a written report after any use of physical force, and that report should be automatically reviewed by high ranking officers.
  Your community's second objective should be to get the police department to establish an early warning system to identify officers who are involved in an inordinate number of incidents that include the inappropriate use of physical force. The incidents should then be investigated and, if verified, the officers involved should be charged, disciplined, transferred, re-trained or offered counseling -- depending on the severity of their misconduct. The Christopher Commission's report on the Rodney King beating ascertained that the Los Angeles police leadership typically looked the other way when officers were involved in questionable incidents. This tolerance of brutality by the top brass helped create an atmosphere conducive to police abuses.
  Police spying, or intelligence gathering, on constitutionally protected political, religious and private sexual behavior is an historic problem. And it's particularly difficult to deal with because spying, by definition, is a covert activity. The victim doesn't know it's happening, and it's not witnessed by others.
  During the 1970s, the ACLU and other public interest organizations brought lawsuits against unconstitutional police surveillance in several cities around the country, including New York City, Chicago, Memphis and Los Angeles. These suits resulted in the imposition of stricter limits on intelligence gathering by the police.
  In Seattle in 1976, it came to light that local police were spying on organizations of black construction workers, Native Americans, advocates for low-income housing and other community activists whose conduct was perfectly lawful. In response to the revelations, the ACLU, along with the American Friends Service Committee and the National Lawyers Guild, formed the Coalition on Government Spying. After several years of hard work and lobbying, the coalition succeeded in bringing about passage of a comprehensive municipal law -- the first of its kind in the country -- that governs all police investigations and restricts the collection of political, religious and sexual information.
 This law, called the Seattle Police Intelligence Ordinance, is an important breakthrough and a model for other efforts. It contains three elements that represent basic changes in police intelligence operations:
(1) "Restricted" information (that is, religious, political or sexual information) can be collected only if a person is reasonably suspected of having committed a crime, and the information must be relevant to that crime; (2) An independent civilian "auditor", appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council, must review all police authorizations to collect restricted information and have access to all other police files. If the auditor finds that the police have violated the law, he or she must so notify the individuals who are the subjects of the unlawful investigations;
(3) Any individual subjected to unlawful surveillance can bring a civil action in court to stop the surveillance, and to collect damages from the city.
 Police policies should be subject to public review and debate instead of being viewed as the sole province of police insiders. Open policy-making not only allows police officials to benefit from community input, but it also provides an opportunity for police officials to explain to the public why certain tactics or procedures may be necessary. This kind of communication between the police and the community can help anticipate problems and avert crises before they occur.
 The Police Review Commission (a civilian review body) of Berkeley, California holds regular, bi-monthly meetings that are open to the public. At these meetings, representatives of community organizations can voice criticisms, make proposals and introduce resolutions to review or reform specific police policies.
 The Police Practices Project of the ACLU of Northern California successfully pressured the San Francisco Police Department to adopt enlightened policies in regard to the treatment of homeless people; the use of pain holds and batons; the deployment of plainclothes officers at protests and demonstrations; intelligence gathering; the selection of field training officers, and AIDS/HIV education for police officers. The Project has also prevented the adoption of bad policies, including an anti-loitering rule and a policy that would have made demonstrators financially liable for police costs.
 In Tucson, Arizona, a Citizens' Police Advisory Committee was made part of the city's municipal code in July 1990. The Committee, which is composed of both civilian and police representatives, has the authority to initiate investigations of controversial incidents or questionable policies, along with other oversight functions.
(a) Consult with the governing body from time to time as may be required by the Mayor and [City] Council.
(b) Assist the police in achieving a greater understanding of the nature and causes of complex community problems in the area of human relations, with special emphasis on the advancement and improvement of relations between police and community minority groups.
(c) Study, examine and recommend methods, approaches and techniques to encourage and develop an active citizen-police partnership in the prevention of crime.
(d) Promote cooperative citizen-police programs and approaches to the solutions of community crime problems, emphasizing the principal that the administration of justice is a responsibility which requires total community involvement.
(e) Recommend procedures, programs and/or legislation to enhance cooperation among citizens of the community and police.
(f) Strive to strengthen and ensure throughout the community the application of the principle of equal protection under the law for all persons.
(g) Consult and cooperate with federal, state, city and other public agencies, commissions and committees on matters within the committee's charge.
(h) The committee may ask for and shall receive from the Police Department, a review of action taken by the Department in incidents which create community concern or controversy.
(i) The committee shall have the authority, should it so desire, to use a specific incident as a vehicle for the examination of police policies, procedures and priorities.
(j) At the discretion and express direction of the Mayor and Council, assume and undertake such other tasks or duties as will facilitate the accomplishment of these goals and objectives......... 
 Over the years, citizens' groups in some communities demanded more education and training for police officers as part of their efforts to solve the problem of police abuse. But at this juncture, the education issue is somewhat moot because the educational levels of American police officers have risen dramatically in recent years. By 1986, 22.6 percent of all officers had four or more years of college. About 65 percent had at least some college experience. The levels of education are highest among new recruits, who, in many departments have about two years of college. Moreover, no evidence exists to show that college educated police officers perform better, or are more respectful of citizen's rights, than less educated officers. In an abuse-prone department, all officers are likely to engage in misconduct, regardless of education levels.
 The training of police personnel has also improved significantly in recent years. The average length of police academy programs has more than doubled, from about 300 to over 600 hours; in some cities, 900 or even 1200 hours are the rule. As the time devoted to training has increased, the academies have added a number of important subjects to their curricula: race relations, domestic violence, handling the mentally ill, and so on.
 Unquestionably, a rigorously trained, professional police force is a desirable goal that should be pursued depending on local conditions. If citizens in your community feel that this is an important issue, here's what you should aim for:
 A first rate police academy curriculum. The curriculum should be near the high end of the current scale -- 800 hours or more. It should include a mix of classroom and supervised field training.
 It should include training in the techniques of de-escalating violence. In addition to being given weapons and taught how to use them, police recruits should also learn special skills -- especially communications skills -- to help them defuse and avert situations that might lead to the necessary use of force.
 It should include community sensitivity training. Training recruits to handle issues of special significance in particular communities can lead to a reduction in community-police tensions.
 The ACLU of Georgia, after a series of incidents occurred in Atlanta involving police harassment of gays, helped provide regular training at the local police academy to sensitize new recruits on gay and lesbian concerns.
The Police Practices Project of the ACLU of Northern California organized a group of homeless people to create a video for use in sensitivity training at the San Francisco police academy.
 The ACLU of New Jersey, in response to complaints that state police were harassing minority motorists and entrapping gay men during an undercover operation in the men's room of a highway service area, joined the NAACP and the Lesbian and Gay Coalition in initiating a series of meetings with the new superintendent of the Division of State Police. The meetings resulted in the introduction a two-week seminar on "Cultural Diversity and Professionalism" that all 1,700 employees of the Division were required to take within a year's time. Although it's too soon to evaluate the seminar's impact on police conduct, the participating organizations believe that at the very least it opened up lines of communication between the community and the police.
 Unfortunately, even the most enlightened training programs can be undermined by veteran officers, who traditionally tell recruits out in the field to "forget all that crap they taught you in the academy."
 In San Francisco some years ago, men selected as field training officers (FTOs) were found to have some of the worst complaint and litigation records in the department. The evaluation scores they gave recruits revealed their systematic attempts to weed out minority and women officers. They labeled women recruits "bad drivers," gave Asians low scores in radio communication and unfairly criticized African Americans for their report-writing. The Northern California ACLU's Police Practices Project joined other community groups in successfully pressuring the police department to adopt stricter selection criteria for FTOs to ensure greater racial and gender integration, fairer evaluations of recruits and higher quality training.
 Historically, police departments, like other government agencies, have engaged in employment discrimination. People of color have been grossly under represented, and women were not even accepted as full-fledged officers until the 1970s.
 Some progress has been made in the last 15 to 20 years. Police departments in several cities now have significant numbers of officers who are people of color.
 A few departments even approach the theoretically ideal level of maintaining forces that reflect the racial composition of the communities they serve. Most departments now recruit and assign women on an equal basis with men.
 Nonetheless, the overall employment levels of women and minorities still lag far behind the ideal. In 1986, only 8.8 percent of all sworn officers were women.
 The San Francisco police force, even though it has been operating under a court-approved consent decree for 12 years, is still only 12 percent female and about 25 percent minority -- just a little more than half the integration level the court required. These disparities are most blatant at the highest ranks of virtually all police departments in the country. Although a number of cities now have African American police chiefs, only two big city departments have ever had female chiefs.
 Improvements in police employment practices have come about largely as the result of litigation under existing civil rights laws. However, the courts may not be hospitable to employment discrimination claims in the future. Therefore, community groups and civil rights organizations should prepare to fight in the political arena for the integration of police departments.
 In the short term, the recruitment of more women and minority officers may not result in less police abuse. Several social science studies suggest that minority and white officers do not differ greatly in their use of physical or deadly force, or in their arrest practices. (Women officers, on the other hand, are involved in citizen complaints at about half the rate of male officers, according to the New York City CCRB.) Still, in the long term, an integrated police force is a very important goal for these reasons:
(1) Integration will break down the isolation of police departments, as they reflect more and more the composition of the communities they serve. A representative police force will probably be less likely to behave like an alien, occupying army. The visible presence of officers of color in high-ranking command positions engenders public confidence in the ability of police department personnel to identify, on human terms, with community residents.
(2) Integration sends the important message that the primary enforcement arm of "the law" is, itself, committed to the principles of equal opportunity and equal protection of the law.
(3) Integration might, over time, reduce overtly racist/sexist enforcement tactics and actions, including brutality.
 Every state now has procedures for certifying or licensing police officers that require all sworn officers to have some minimum level of training. This was one of the advances of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
 An important new development is the advent of procedures for decertifying officers. Traditionally, a police officer could be fired from one department but then hired by another. As a result, persons guilty of gross misconduct could continue to work as police officers. Decertification bars a dismissed officer from further police employment in that state (though not necessarily in some other state). Between 1976 and 1983, the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission decertified 132 police officers.
 One result of the increasing number of lawsuits brought against police departments by victims of abuse over the past 20 years was a movement, within the police profession, for an accreditation process similar to that in education and other fields whereby the police would establish and enforce their own professional standards.
In 1979, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (COALEA) was established as a joint undertaking of several major professional associations. COALEA published its first set of Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies in 1985 and issues new standards periodically.
 In deciding whether your community should press for accreditation of its local police department, keep in mind these basic points.
(1) Accreditation is a voluntary process. A police department suffers no penalty for not being accredited. (In contrast, lack of accreditation in higher education carries penalties that include an institution's ineligibility for student financial aid programs and non-recognition of its awarded credits or degrees.)
(2) Current accreditation standards are minimum, rather than optimum. They are very good in some respects but do not go far enough in covering the critical uses of law enforcement powers.
(3) Accreditation might make a difference in the case of a truly backward, unprofessional and poorly managed police department in that it could help stimulate much needed and long overdue changes. On the other hand, a police department can easily comply with all of the current standards and still tolerate rampant brutality, spying and other abuses.
(4) Citizens in your particular community must decide whether, taking all of the above into account, accreditation would serve as an effective mobilization tool.
 Once your community has identified its police problems and decided what solutions to pursue, an organizing strategy for securing the desired reform must be developed.
 In the 1960s and '70s, the most successful method of attacking police abuse was the lawsuit. During the tenure of Chief Justice Earl Warren, landmark Supreme
 Court decisions that imposed nationally uniform limits on police behavior were handed down in the cases of Mapp v. Ohio, Escobedo v. Illinois and Miranda v. Arizona. Respectively, those decisions extended Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures to the states, established the Sixth
Amendment right to a lawyer during police interrogations and required the police to inform persons taken into custody of their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Today, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist is repeatedly demonstrating its hostility to individual rights, as are many lower federal courts, the majority of whose presiding judges were appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. More and more, therefore, the task of opposing police abuse falls not to lawyers, but to the citizens in your community.
PROFILE: The Indianapolis Law Enforcement and Community Relations Coalition.
 The year is 1984. Galvanized by a series of brutal and unjustified police killings that have sparked tensions between the police department and the African American community, 19 civil rights, religious, professional and civic organizations form the Indianapolis Law Enforcement/Community Relations Coalition. Coalition members include the Urban League, Baptist Ministerial Alliance, Community Centers of Indianapolis, Hispano-American Center, Indiana Council of Churches, Jewish Community Relations Council, Mental Health Association, NAACP and the United Methodist Church.
The coalition, co-chaired by the directors of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union and the Urban League of Greater Indianapolis, sets the establishment of a civilian review board as its first priority. A board is established in 1989.
 Currently, the coalition is seeking to strengthen the board's authority and functions. Coalition members are calling for removal of three police representatives so that the board will be completely civilian and, thus, truly independent. Coalition members collaborate with police academy instructors on sensitivity training, meeting with every class of recruits before the recruits graduate and take on their first field assignments. The recruits receive orientation around various policies and procedures that impact on the community, such as the use of deadly force.
In Indianapolis today, the Law Enforcement/Community Relations Coalition is regarded by the police, the public and the media as the city's principal civilian watchdog organization. Key to the coalition's success has been its broad based character and commitment to participatory decision-making.
 PROFILE: COPWATCH, Berkeley, California COPWATCH is a community organization whose stated purpose is "to reduce police harassment and brutality," and "to uphold Berkeley's tradition of tolerance and diversity." Its main activities are monitoring police conduct through personal observation, recording and publicizing incidents of abuse and harassment, and working with Berkeley's civilian review board -- the Police Review Commission.
 COPWATCH sends teams of volunteers into the community on three-hour shifts. Each team is equipped with a flashlight, tape recorder, camera, "incident" forms (see sidebar) and COPWATCH Handbooks that describe the organization's non-violent tactics, relevant laws, court decisions, police policies and what citizens should do in an emergency. At the end of a shift, the volunteers return their completed forms to the COPWATCH office. If they have witnessed an harassment incident, they call one of the organization's cooperating lawyers, who follows up on the incident.  
PROFILE: The Seattle Coalition on Government Spying
 The year is 1976. During confirmation hearings for a new Seattle police chief, it comes to light that the city's police department maintains political intelligence files on citizens who are not suspected of any criminal activity.
 Some time later, a local newspaper prints the names of 150 individuals that were found in police files.
 A group of citizens, concerned about this clear violation of First Amendment and privacy rights, form the Coalition on Government Spying.
 One of the coalition's first acts is to file suit under the Washington public disclosure law, seeking access to the police department's intelligence files (see sample Open Records statute in sidebar). Under the law, the police can refuse to disclose the files only if "non disclosure is essential to effective law enforcement." Since the files are purely political, the court orders full disclosure.
 The coalition's charges of abuse turn out to be well-founded. Not only do the files show that the police have engaged in unconstitutional surveillance of political activists, but they are full of inaccurate, misleading and damaging information.
 The lawsuit and its revelations receive a lot of media attention, which helps build strong public support for reform. The result: Seattle enacts the first and only municipal ordinance in the country that restricts police surveillance.
 Each of the 50 states has a freedom of information act or an open records law. Virtually all such laws were enacted post-Watergate, in the mid-1970's. Under these laws, community groups can request and obtain access to police reports, investigations, policies and tape recordings regarding a controversial incident, such as a beating, shooting, or false arrest. If the police refuse to disclose information to representatives of your community, that refusal in itself should become the focus of organizing and public attention. Ultimately, your community can sue to compel disclosure, unless the records you seek are specifically exempted.
General state policy on public records.
 It is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records shall at all times be open for a personal inspection by any person.
(1) "Public records" means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, or other material, regardless of physical form or other characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.
(2) "Agency" shall mean any state, county, district, authority or municipal officer, department, division, board, bureau, commission, or other separate unit of government...
Inspection and examination of records; exemptions.
(1) Every person who has custody of public records shall permit the records to be inspected and examined by any person desiring to do so, at reasonable times, under reasonable conditions...The custodian shall furnish copies or certified copies of the records upon payment of fees...
(2) All public records which presently are provided by law to be confidential or which are prohibited from being inspected by the public, whether by general or special law, shall be exempt from the provisions of subsection (1).
 PROFILE: Police Practices Project, ACLU of Northern California The Police Practices Project conducts education programs to teach citizens about their constitutional rights. One aspect of the police abuse problem, the project believes, is that the police tend to abuse certain people partly because they think these individuals don't know their rights, or don't know how to assert their rights. The project also believes that its programs have the added advantage of recruiting groups and individuals to work in police reform campaigns.
  The project also publishes wallet-size cards in English, Spanish and Chinese that inform citizens about what to do or say in encounters with the police. These cards have been widely distributed in the community. (One card-holder reported that he pulled out his card when confronted by a police officer, only to have the officer reach into his wallet and pull out his own copy of the same card!)
 The project believes that individual citizens and community groups become informed about police policies just by participating in the preparation of educational materials and training sessions. That participation also fosters awareness about particular areas of police practice that need reform. Most important, education empowers even the most disenfranchised people and helps deter the police from treating them abusively.
If Your Are Stopped in Your Car
 Show your driver's license and registration upon request. Your can in certain cases be searched without a warrant so long as the police have probable cause.
To protect yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not consent to a search.
 If you are given a ticket, you should sign it, otherwise you can be arrested. You can always fight the case in court later.
 If you are suspected of drunken driving and refuse a blood, urine or breath test, your driving license can be suspended.
 If You Are Arrested or Taken to a Police Station You have the right to remain silent and talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Tell the police nothing except your name and address. Do not give explanations, excuses or stories. You can make your defense in court based on what you and your lawyer decide is best.
Ask to see a lawyer immediately. If you cannot pay for a lawyer, you have a right to a free one, and you should ask the police how the lawyer can be contacted. Do not talk without a lawyer.
 PROFILE: The New York Civil Liberties Union's Campaign for a "Real Civilian Review Board"
 The time is August 1988; the place, New York City. Manhattan's Lower East Side neighborhood is rocked by one of the most serious outbreaks of police violence in years. The violence occurs as the police, declaring a curfew, begin to eject homeless people and their supporters from Tompkins Square Park. Fifty-two people, most of them innocent bystanders, sustain serious injuries at the hands of the police. Much of the violence is recorded on video. Yet the officers who are guilty of misconduct go virtually unpunished; only one receives more than a 30-day suspension from the force.
 The city's Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) comes under heightened scrutiny. Although it has existed since 1966, the CCRB has long been criticized for its lack of independence and secretive proceedings. Half of its 12 members are appointed by the mayor, the other half by the police commissioner. Most of the CCRB's investigators are police officers.
  During 1991, the campaign calls on the city's community boards to pass resolutions in support of "a real CCRB." (The community boards are elected bodies that have advisory jurisdiction over a variety of local matters, such as zoning and land use). Campaign spokespersons debate police department representatives before some 30 community boards throughout the city, and 19 boards pass resolutions calling for revisions of the present system (see sample resolution in sidebar). Each board that passes a resolution becomes a member of the campaign coalition. Coalition members set up tables at street fairs and other community events to collect signatures on petitions for "a real CCRB."
 More than 1,000 signatures are collected. The NYCLU, after garnering this broad support develops legislation for submission to the City Council. The bill is endorsed by 14 Council members. At this writing, the bill has yet to be debated, but the cause of true civilian review in New York City has already been advanced.