Liz Peek

Clinton’s Plan to Handcuff the Cops Won’t Save the Racial Divide

Liz | 07/20 at 07:03 PM

Where do we go from here? That’s what many Americans wonder, as they watch race relations spiral downward and cops across the country come under siege. How can we bring the nation together again? How can we make everyone safe?

On Monday, Hillary Clinton laid out her plan to mend the racial divide, asserting that “there is clear evidence that African Americans are disproportionately killed in police incidents compared to any other group.”  Speaking to the NAACP in Cincinnati, Hillary said she wants the federal government to ride herd on local law enforcement, to create “clear national guidelines on the use of force, especially lethal force” and set up “independent investigations of fatal encounters.”  So much for community policing.

Related: NAACP Head: ‘We Know What to Do’ About Police Shootings

It’s hard to know whether Clinton is still atoning for her husband signing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act or for having called black youngsters “super-predators.” There is no confusion about what she wanted, however. After her pitch on confronting racial bias in policing, she alerted the NAACP crowd to her recruiters in the hall, looking to hire “paid organizers” to help round up votes.  

In a speech in Baltimore last year, Clinton decried the “inequities that persist in our justice system” and   proposed beefing up the Justice Department’s unit that monitors civil rights violations. She also advised limiting “the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement.” She also wants double funding for the DOJ “Collaborative Reform” program and to support legislation to end racial profiling by cops.

That’s her plan – imposing more federal oversight on local law enforcement. More feds probing every violent cop-related encounter, monitoring what kind of weapons they are allowed to carry, whether or not they have followed federal guidelines on use of force or engaged in racial profiling. How do we think cops on the beat will respond to having Big Brother along in the patrol car?

Related: Clinton’s Conundrum: Caught Between Protesters and Police

Cops rarely resort to violence unnecessarily, despite the narrative perpetuated in recent months by black activists and their supporters. When attacked by a man matching the description of someone suspected of robbing a convenience store, police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.  In the heat of the moment, Wilson defended himself.

The Justice Department cleared Wilson of wrongdoing. They found evidence at the scene that exonerated the cop, and that showed differing versions – those that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement by claiming Brown had his hands up in surrender—untrue.  The witnesses, according to a DOJ investigation – the Obama DOJ—“were not credible.” One witness recanted her story that Wilson had shot Brown in the back when the latter was lying in the street and admitted she was afraid to contradict the false story that others were spreading, according to The New York Times. Nonetheless, the mythology of Ferguson lives on.

Already, some say that cops on the beat are looking over their shoulders. Homicide rates are up sharply so far this year in more than 20 cities, including Chicago and Dallas. In a speech at the University of Chicago Law School last year, FBI Chief James Comey said, “I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation {for rising crime rates} is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.” In response to the higher murder rates reported in May, Comey reiterated his belief that a “viral video effect” had caused cops to be wary about confronting suspects.

Related: How Obama’s Support of Black Lives Matter Deepens the Racial Divide

Comey was quoted in an article in The Atlantic in which the drop in crime over the past 20 years was described as “largely unexplained.” For people living in large cities like New York, there is no mystery at all. Aggressive policing and the use of “stop & frisk” cut down on rampant crime, and made the streets safe again.

Indeed, such tactics continue to prove effective. Just this week the New York Postreported on a cop in Brooklyn who, as they describe it “pays house calls.” NYPD Deputy Inspector William Taylor, in charge of the 60th precinct, actually goes to the homes of the top repeat-offenders in his district – people he dubs the “Dirty 30.” He tells them “whatever happened in the past isn’t going to happen anymore. We’re not going to tolerate it.” Crime in the precinct is down in all major categories this year. Robberies are off 52 percent and shootings 43 percent. That’s good policing.

If Hillary were president, would Taylor be hauled in for a review by the DOJ? Would his in-your-face police style be considered profiling? Or an abridgement of civil rights? Maybe, and the neighborhoods under his supervision would suffer as a result.

Related: Obama Says More Must Be Done to Address U.S. Police Shootings

Police forces around the country are most likely as wary as the individual cops who work for them. The DOJ opened an investigation into the Chicago police force last December, looking for evidence of bad practice in use of force and whether its “accountability systems comply with constitutional standards.” The investigation includes interrogation of police officials and local authorities, community members, public defenders and prosecutors and is being conducted by lawyers and staff of the Civil Rights division.

The feds will engage in ride-alongs, to observe cops at work, and review documents and specific incidents. Is it unkind to imagine that the lawyers and staff of the Civil Rights division may have an agenda?

This is not to suggest that police departments should not be held accountable by the federal authorities, or that such investigations are not worthwhile. A 150-page Collaborative Reform Initiative report assessing the use of deadly force in the Philadelphia Police Department lays out strict guidelines for, among other things, using firearms to destroy injured deer (unless they are presenting a threat to a police officer). If the deer’s injuries appear fatal, the police are advised to call in a SWAT team which can resolve the encounter with “one shot between the eyes” and is then required to fill out a “preformatted memorandum.” Seriously.   

Hillary’s website describes her approach to criminal justice reform as intended to “strengthen bonds of trust between communities and police.” It is hard to imagine anything less likely. 

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