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T. Greg Doucette
+ Your AuthorsArchive @greg_doucette Ex-computer scientist, now criminal defense & 1A attorney in NC+TX. Host of @fsckemall. Dog lover. #NeverTrump conservative. Proud alum of @NCCU and @NCState. May. 28, 2020 21 min read

How much time do you have? πŸ˜‚


I'm not a historian or political science guru – I tag in Prof. @KevinMKruse for those things – but my assumption is that ethnonationalists / neo-Nazis / etc join police because of the unchecked power police have these days to terrorize minorities


So reduce that power – and hold police accountable for abusing it – and you reduce the allure to those folks pretty quick

And on that front, the to-do list is quite long


1️⃣ Abolish qualified immunity

QI is a doctrine created from scratch by judges. It was never enacted into law by a legislature or signed by an executive; judges created it on their own

And it protects police from being held accountable for their bad judgment


Qualified immunity means a policeman cannot be sued civilly for violating your rights – killing you, brutalizing you, etc – unless that right was "clearly established" at the time of the violation

What does "clearly established" mean? Whatever a judge wants


For example, police in California were sued b/c they stole $100K+ in rare coins while executing a search warrant

They received QI – the case was dismissed – because "stealing during a search" was not "clearly established" as illegal


In practice, almost nothing at all is ever "clearly established"

If a police officer chokes someone to death for sport, you'd say "killing for sport is illegal!"

Then a judge'd say "just killing them with his shin, not with his knee"


And because qualified immunity is what's called an immunity "from suit," it means those cases get dismissed early and never make it to discovery or trial

Meaning facts almost never come out to define what will be "clearly established" in the future


Reuters had an exceptionally thorough deep dive on qualified immunity just a couple weeks ago

Read this when your time permits; it's very long, but highlights how pernicious the doctrine is

@SailorBrendan β€¦

[Probably should have mentioned it earlier in the thread, but the vast majority of what you're going to see on this list requires legislative action at some level and a willing executive to implement it. So none of this will happen soon without voting.]


2️⃣ Require police for carry malpractice insurance

We require it for doctors, pharmacists, and other professions where you could be killed by incompetence or malice. Police should be know different


Requiring police to carry insurance serves two goals at the same time:

(A) it protects taxpayers from having to shell out $$$$$$$$ in settlement money


(B) insurance rates for individual officers will rise based on how bad they are


If you're like the mongrel-with-a-badge who murdered #GeorgeFloyd – with several prior brutality incidents on your record – the cost for a city to insure you eventually hits a point where you're not worth the expense, and become unemployable as a cop


Malpractice insurance for police is a topic that @ConLawWarrior has written about often

@SailorBrendan β€¦

3️⃣ Use pay incentives to get a better breed of police officer

Did you know most states only require cops to have a high school diploma? And the police academy is typically only 6-8 weeks long?

You end up with a lot of young bad cops who become old bad cops


Police should have at least a 4-year college degree. Not b/c those degrees are particularly relevant to the job, but b/c the life experience from being in college for that timespan – being around people who aren't like you, navigating conflict, etc – matters


But if a state won't require that baseline legislatively, departments can accomplish the same goal by offering a pay bump (similar to what many localities do for teachers with advanced degrees)


4️⃣ Incentivize community policing

Same concept as pay bumps for degrees, but in this case offered to police who actually live in the neighborhoods they patrol


Police officers are less likely to escalate and kill people when it's their neighbors that they're dealing with


5️⃣ Make "Brady lists" public record

Every District Attorney's Office in the country knows which cops on which police forces are documented liars who can't be trusted to provide sworn testimony in court

They end up on what are dubbed "Brady lists"


The name is a reference to the Brady v Maryland case by the Supreme Court, which ruled the Government has to turn over all evidence that tends to exonerate someone accused of a crime

Here, though, it's a misnomer: most Brady lists aren't disclosed at all


They're not given to defense attorneys, and they're never ever ever ever (ever) given to the public

When California recently enacted new laws to make this info known, police unions went apesh*t and sued to block the laws from taking effect


I'd argue *all* records of police misconduct should be publicly accessible. But if that's a bridge too far, at the very list it should include officers who are too dishonest to be trusted in court


6️⃣ Abolish cities' sweetheart deals with police unions

Your head would spin at some of the sh*t police get away with because it's *written into their contracts that they can*

@deray, @samswey, @ClintSmithIII, and several others have written about this often


The ability to hop / skip / jump from department to department as officers are fired

Elaborate termination procedures that block their firing in the first place, or enable them to easily get reinstated with back pay

The list goes on


For further reading on this, check out 


7️⃣ Require de-escalation in Use of Force policies alongside public, transparent training on de-escalation

Police these days operate like paramilitary units, complete with military gear and recruitment videos that promote a "domestic warfare" mindset


Except the military has rules of engagement, a Uniform Code of Military Justice, and courts martial that will punish you severely for misconduct

Police have qualified immunity, a "Blue Lives Matter" PR apparatus, and oodles of case law to protect them


Cities and states can modify guidelines on when and how police can use force, and when they can escalate

That needs to be flipped on its head, to promote de-escalation and the preservation of life as the overriding concern


On this one, check out 


8️⃣ End "tail-light policing" entirely

A large number of police brutality incidents – and the corresponding court cases that have eroded Fourth Amendment rights – come from traffic stops


Those traffic stops end up disproportionately targeting racial minorities

See, e.g., this Stanford study that analyzed 95,000,000+ traffic stops across 56 departments over 7 years, documenting what's known as the "veil of darkness"

@SailorBrendan β€¦

You can see similar results in the states contained in the  website (covering a combined 49,000,000 traffic stops across 3 states)


Nearly all of those stops don't actually have to happen. They're done to provide a basis for fishing expeditions by the Government, and to raise money via citations

Nothing at all to do with public safety


Reduce the incidence of police interaction with citizens and you reduce the number of opportunities bad police have to kill someone


9️⃣ Mandate a separation between the crime response units and investigative units in a department

I quite literally can't count how many times I've tweeted about police officers caught on camera planting evidence


For most departments, most of the time, the responding officer becomes the arresting officer who then testifies in court about the crime

This incentivizes lying: planting evidence, making sh*t up on police reports, lying under oath in court

All to "win"


The bona fide first responders to a scene – often to situations where emotions run high – shouldn't be the ones quarterbacking evidence collection too


πŸ”Ÿ Automatic special prosecutors for all police brutality incidents

So-called "line" prosecutors – the ones in the courtrooms every day trying cases – come to rely on the police they work with regularly

So they'll almost never prosecute them for wrongdoing


If there's ever an incident of alleged police misconduct – everything from a beating to a murder – a special prosecutor from outside that jurisdiction should be assigned to review it and decide if charges are warranted


1️⃣1️⃣ More frequent USDOJ intervention

Tying in with #10, most states think police are infallible and will never prosecute – or they'll do a deliberately sh*t job so the officer is found not guilty

The Feds need to be more willing to prosecute in those cases


Federal prosecutions for criminal violations of civil rights laws were instrumental in helping curtail killings during the Civil Rights Era

We've got the same sort of killings happening now, it's just Government employees doing it


1️⃣2️⃣ Expand data collection and mandatory reporting on use-of-force incidents (and other police activity generally)

Remember that traffic stop a few tweets up? Most states have developed uniform traffic reports to systematize data collection

Do it elsewhere


Unless something's been developed in the past couple years and I've missed it, there is no uniform standard of what data to collect for non-traffic police activity – including incidents where force is used

There is also no req for that info to be reported


The Obama admin took some baby steps down that road with their Police Data Initiative, and several other orgs are trying similar things, but there's nothing universal yet

Like COVID testing, you can't tell how bad something is if you can't measure it


1️⃣3️⃣ Enact statutory protections to restore the 4th / 5th / 6th / 8th Amendments

The protections provided by the "criminal justice" amendments to the Constitution have been blown all to hell after centuries of court decisions


For example, at the federal level the Supreme Court has ruled it's totally 100% fine for the police to violate your Fourth Amendment rights as long as they do so "in good faith"

I've talked a bit about that before in this old thread


A lot of states, run by legislators of both parties who are embarrassingly sycophantic police apologists, then enacted the Herring test into law

It'd be nice to see it abolished instead


(You'll notice the vote on gutting the Exclusionary Rule was quite lopsided. That's because the love of police brutality is strongly bipartisan.)


The same concept applies to all the other rights that the Supreme Court has scaled back over the years

They're constitutional *minimums* that state legislatures can expand upon at will


1️⃣4️⃣ Scale back, or eliminate entirely, "contempt of cop" statutes

You often hear someone has been arrested for "resisting arrest" – but did you know you can be arrested for resisting *even when there was no basis for an arrest* in the first place?


In North Carolina, our statute is called "resist / delay / obstruct a peace officer," also known by its acronym RDO or colloquially as "contempt of cop"

It's a basis to arrest if you ask questions, move too slowly, or just piss off a cop for any reason at all


You will undoubtedly be shocked to learn that it's almost exclusively a "black" crime, used by police whenever they want to pretend you're being "uppity" and don't know your place in our racial caste system


These statutes need to be trimmed, and abusing them should be a separate basis for professional discipline


1️⃣5️⃣ Stronger sentencing for police misconduct offenses

(We've reached the point in the thread where I'm remembering stuff I should have mentioned earlier πŸ˜‚)

Crimes by police should have sentences comparable to the analogous crime by a civilian, *at least*


If you kill someone, the sentence you're going to get will end up vastly longer than a police officer convicted of the same crime

So even if you ge through alllllllll of the prosecutorial hurdles mentioned upthread, police get less prison time to boot


Same if you steal money, or steal property, or embezzle

The punishment for you doing it will always be far more harsh than a cop convicted of doing the same thing


I'd argue the sentences for crimes by police – and crimes by all public servants tbh – should actually be *more* harsh. Because they're violating public trust in addition to the law

But we can start by at least making the sentences comparable


I'm sure there's plenty more that I'm forgetting at the moment

Back in 2016, I ran for the state legislature and had quite a bit of court reform stuff on my platform. I left the website up here

@SailorBrendan β€¦

None of these, by itself, is going to fix everything

But implementing several of them starts to change the incentive structure in place around policing. And that will start steering things toward more-desirable policy outcomes


Happy to answer any questions you've got, and apologies for carpet-bombing your @'s


Also just realized my @'s are a shambles now too πŸ˜‚

Exactly. Literally nothing at all stopping them from punching in your plate and the DMV spitting out a letter to your last known address saying "your plate light is out, fix it in 30 days or we'll suspend your license"

All true

But pressure needs to be put on current elected officials too, esp when sheriffs / district attorneys / etc often aren't elected until "off-year" elections πŸ˜•

Police licensing is what we have now. It doesn't work

If we want to set a minimum hiring age of 24 for those who don't have a college degree, I'm fine with that too

Possibly, but I'm skeptical. The number of new law enforcement openings in any given year is far smaller than the total pool of potential applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds who got a college degree

Scroll up to #2 πŸ˜‰

It exists, called CALEA (the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies)

But it's a bit like college accreditation, in that its ability to enforce change is both limited and very slow

No doubt, because for a lot of departments the pay sucks

Durham routinely loses people to spots like Cary, which pay better and require less work

That's why the extra $$$$$$$ is needed to incentivize the applicant pool you want

My Twitter app is borked, I'm not seeing most responses to most of the thread πŸ˜‘

May take some time for it to unf*ck itself so I can respond, sorry y'all

I'm fine with it

There are a *lot* of in-courtroom changes to be made as well, I just didn't get into them b/c that doesn't come up if an officer's killed someone first

How many drivers are there on the roads? And yet most (every?) state requires liability insurance to have a license

It doesn't need to be easy to be doable

My off-the-cuff guess is no, because in this scenario it would fall under the government speech side of things

Just like the government can require uniforms of its employees, it could require suits when in court

Trickier question for off-duty cops πŸ€”

Compared to what we've got for police though? Orders of magnitude more accountable


Lots of speed traps magically materialize the last week of the month


@TimCushing of TechDirt has several examples here: β€¦

(Including a cite to @ScottGreenfield, who also blogs on this stuff regularly)


Can't speak for other states, but in NC "policing for profit" is real

A breakdown of where the money goes is here:

The politicians get more of course, but the police get quite a bit


Once "soft on crime" became a viable political attack, police became immune from all accountability at every level. They alone are the big πŸ† alpha warrior thin blue line commandos separating the savage hordes from white purity and etc etc

Until the police sue you for trademark infringement πŸ˜‰

Probably true. But the effects of reform are the same IMO: make policing a service profession instead of a "sheepdog" profession, and things change

The challenge there is that you have a good number of politicians, and at least as many media personalities, whose livelihood hinges on them being slavish apologists for law enforcement

I lost it somewhere mid-thread, but insurance companies tend to provide a lot of educational materials as well – because their profits go up if there are fewer claims made


For example, in the lawyer context, my malpractice insurer provides 2 free all-day classes a year (with food and drinks at a fancy hotel), tons of online resources, lists of best practices, etc etc etc

You'd see police insurers do the same


I've been fortunate to learn from a lot of folks who came before me and have been working in this space for years

Progress is being made, albeit slowly

Nah. To the defense bar's credit, most of us are "always on" looking for holes in a case. You'd need someone with a prosecutorial mindset whose career advancement hinges on convicting dirty cops

Allegedly :)

And this ain't even all of them Shep!

I totally forgot basic stuff like "everyone has bodycams at all times" and etc

TouchΓ© – I think it was @AuhsdBond who shared some of the Cali police salary data with me, and the numbers are eye-popping

Probably true in some other well-off states as well, but less so across the southeast and plains

Nah. Trying to thread that needle is too complex a challenge to convey in 30-second ads

I'm not a political guru (cc: @TheRickWilson or @SykesCharlie), but I imagine it would instead take a competing-but-compelling narrative around constitutional rights

Speaking anecdotally, one thing I've found that works is just the sheer monotony of it

I've had friends who became @fsckemall listeners who went from "this never happens" to "Jesus Christ, again???" in the span of a couple years


It's also why I support universal bodycams

Risk for unwarranted surveillance is higher, and you end up distributing "trauma porn" when vids get released, but a large chunk of persuadable (mostly white) folks didn't believe police abuse was common until video


Seeing the morbid banality of evil though – several times a month, every month, for years – tends to shock the conscience



Less drunk than it takes to think a less-educated police force is a better one

If you got politicians willing to adopt reforms, I think they'd (hopefully) stand up to police unions too

The courts are damn near irretrievable though. You'd need at least 3-4 more hard core defense-friendly justices on SCOTUS to undo bad precedents

Of course πŸ™„

Ending the Β§1033 Program would help too, absolutely

Precisely right

In terms of need, I'd leave the first two as the first two – but if lower stuff can get enacted sooner, good

Not that I'm aware of, but I may be insufficiently imaginative

I don't know that this is reformable; they'll always have 5A rights for something that's potentially criminal, the question is whether they could be fired for not cooperating

At least some of them, yes. There was an extensive LA Times piece not too long ago going through some of the released disciplinary data

Oh absolutely. Extra benefits shouldn't be enshrined in their contracts, but removing it from their contracts won't lead to more cooperation

You wondered? It seemed obvious to me. But I'm also cynical

There are so many orgs in each state that have been pushing forward, I'm hesitant to start naming them out of fear of leaving out others πŸ˜‚

Here in NC, I'm partial to the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (@scsj) and NAACP (@ncnaacp), but many more

Nah. Private prisons should still be abolished anyway as a matter of principle, but they're only a small piece of the total incarceration problem and generally don't have an influence on pre-conviction behavior by police

I doubt that would ever happen; they couldn't be forced into doing it, and police unions tend to jealously guard their $$$$ so they can pay it to their leadership

I suspect they'll get involved trying to get insurance companies to lower rates anyway tho

"Butthead" is tame compared to what I usually get called πŸ˜‚


There are definitely big financial incentives to keeping things exactly as they are

Even in North Carolina – which I'd argue has an above-average court system – it's intentionally structured to generate a sh*tload of $$$$$ for police and politicians

This is another idea that I'm not sure can legally be done. If I were a run-of-the-mill police officer who hadn't done anything wrong, I'd argue it's a due process violation to raid my pension for someone else's crimes

Not really – if you've got enough willing politicians to redirect the money, better to have them reduce it entirely instead

We do have some limited success with fines in NC, which are req'd to go to the local school board... so you see less of them πŸ˜‚

Yes, but more hidden

In NC, true civil asset forfeiture at the state level is almost nonexistent: we require convictions first, and the $$ can't go to the police

So instead, DAs negotiate pleas where seized $$ is "voluntarily" given up to bypass the law

(And then of course there's the "equitable sharing" with the Feds, but that's a different ball of forfeiture cheese)

A few tweets up someone inquired about charities doing the work on the ground who could use your financial help

Here are some in Minnesota, from @anamariecox

And several more

Indeed. Several of them linked in the thread

Probably best to just use one of the @threadreaderapp Unroll links floating around

Try this one: β€¦

If enough judges got skittish about jailing folks, you'd see apocalyptic changes made to the judiciary ASAP πŸ˜‚

Totally agreed, but then you end up back with the issue of sweetheart deals made between city councils and police unions

You'd be amazed the type of stuff that *isn't* a basis for being fired (including lying, rape, drug addiction, etc)


Can you imagine the Threadnought in the pre-threading era? πŸ˜‚

I keep an auto-updated list here: β€¦

Absolutely. Private sector unions have different incentives than public sector ones

Of course they don't. The police will never police themselves.

That's why external bodies – especially legislatures, historically tasked with both law-making and oversight – have to fix it

There are two angles to any given episode of police brutality: criminal prosecution, and civil lawsuits to compensate victims (under, e.g., 42 USC Β§1983)

QI only saves police from the civil suits. The buddy-buddy DA-cop friendship stops the prosecutions

Can confirm!

Much obliged, glad it was useful!

Remember the Qualified Immunity discussion at the start of this thread?

Add another example – today! – to the list

Police forced a man out of his car as he was having a mental health episode, then shot him 15x in the back as he fled b/c "he had a knife"

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decision is here: β€¦

I'd encourage you to read the dissent

Oh don't sell yourself short, you're not as witty as a lot of other things too

You have an odd fascination with genitalia. Seek help.

Agreed. "Police should absolutely *not* carry insurance like everyone else!" is a bizarre hill to die on

1️⃣ Yes

2️⃣ *But* we need voters to take this seriously too. It's damn near impossible to get elected as a judge unless you've been a prosecutor (doubly so if you're not a white male with wealth). Elected officials perpetuate this system

Yep πŸ˜”

The only other option is to turn and walk away, which ensures there will never be accountability

I'm not sure this is correct. We have a Law Enforcement Officer Benefit - Retirement Fund that collects $7.50 for every traffic ticket statewide (listed as "LEOB-RF on the cost sheets). Is that under LGERS?


But I also realize the odds of it ever changing in my lifetime are scant, and there are more-pressing priorities to address

A number of city / county-level governments have "Citizen Accountability Boards" (or similar names), but I'm not aware of any of them that have any meaningful oversight or investigative power

We work hard to ignore crimes by police πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ¦…πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ


Probably doable for the larger departments in major metro areas. It'd at least be a start

Holy sh*t

Appreciate the kind words!

Glad y'all won, that's not an easy accomplishment!

You can follow @greg_doucette.


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