A new look at existing data by LSU researchers refutes the Trump administration's claims.
- The United States Department of Defense gifts surplus military equipment and clothing to local police departments.
- The militarization of police coincides with a significant loss of trust in law enforcement from the American public.
- Militarized police departments are more likely to interact violently with their communities.
A wide lack of support<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk0NTA5MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MTgxMjQ3MX0.MkHMggYd2V-JEEGobDPR51QSNgycPFCUFXGMMPCS2cc/img.jpg?width=980" id="e4754" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="523ef043784b62c3fba76f42668de0a4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="912" />
Credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images<p>It's no wonder that more than half of the American public <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/12/us/gallup-poll-police.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">no longer trusts the police</a>. It's hard not to get the impression that for many police departments, the mission has changed from one of support for its communities to an attempt to intimidate and dominate its members.</p><p>Studies back this up. Police whose departments use military equipment are <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2053168017712885" target="_blank">more often violent</a> with community members and are more likely to kill them. Neither is this a small problem at the margins of policing: <a href="https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/nationaltrends" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Over 1,000 people</a> are killed by police annually.</p><p>In spite of the Trump administration's faith in the soundness of the 1033 program, others from across the political spectrum disagree. On the right, the Charles Koch Foundation <a href="https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/issue-areas/criminal-justice-policing-reform/militarization-of-police/" target="_blank">asserts</a>, "This erosion of public confidence in law enforcement and low support for militarization impedes law enforcement's ability to effectively secure public safety." From the left, the American Civil Liberties Union <a href="https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police/police-militarization" target="_blank">says</a>, "We advocate for a return to a less dangerous, more collaborative style of policing. We should not be able to mistake our officers for soldiers."</p>
Sketchy records<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk0NTA5NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMTE1Nzk5MX0.KuoUq6a7B-1Pc01yH9bMziQE6rTg-aGvN00SgSCBUVA/img.jpg?width=980" id="7f861" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="602430081af21aa3ec2c66b79042a96a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="1033" />
Credit: JeremyAdobe Stock<p>Gunderson explains to <a href="https://www.lsu.edu/mediacenter/news/2020/12/07polisci_gunderson_nature.php" target="_blank">LSU Media Center</a> that, "scholars rely on accurate data to track and analyze the true effect of police militarization on crime. Policymakers also need accurate data to base their decisions upon. However, to-date, we do not have reliable data on SME transfers to local police and sheriffs through the federal government."</p><p>The research cited by the Trump administration was a study done by the American Economic Association based on SME data collected through a 2014 Freedom of Information Act request. Having a look at that data themselves, along with other FOIA 2014 data released by National Public Radio and newer data from 2018, the LSU researchers found that things didn't quite line up. Where FOIA suggests certain counties received SME, NPR's data showed no such transfer. Similarly, NPR reported departments receiving items such as weapons, grants that were not reflected in the 2018 data as expected.</p><p>"When we looked at the data and ran the replications, nothing looked like the results being cited by the Trump Administration," Gunderson recalls. "We spent a year trying to diagnose the problem."</p>
Instead<p>The LSU researchers' conclusion was the the previously released SME data from the DOD was too inconsistent to produce reliable insights. They conducted their own analysis, aligning newer data with country-level LEA data, to derive a cohesive, accurate picture that allowed them to more definitively assess who got SME transfers and who didn't, and what effect it had on local crime statistics.</p><p>They found no indication that SME transfers led to a reduction in crime. The study concludes, "we find no evidence that federal distributions of SME to local LEAs across the United States reduce crime rates, neither violent nor nonviolent crime rates, in the jurisdictions that receive it."</p><p>Gunderson adds:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This is a cautionary tale about the importance of oversight. The most important thing for policymakers and the public to know is that you can't justify giving surplus military equipment to police departments on the grounds it will lead to a reduction in crime. There is no evidence for that. You can't claim this program is important because it reduces crime."</p><p>What's more says, the report, "because of serious data problems and debatable methodological choices in prior studies, the empirical foundations on which social scientists, along with policymakers and the public, stand when making causal claims about the effects of the transfers of SME may be no firmer than quicksand."</p>
New documents confirm that the government agency—one of many—has been using a tracking company.
- Documents reveal that the Secret Service used Locate X as part of a social media tracking package.
- The service "allows investigators to draw a digital fence around an address or area, pinpoint mobile devices that were within that area, and see where else those devices have traveled, going back months."
- Other agencies that have used this service include the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Young players walk through the city centre of Hanover while holding their smartphones and playing "Pokemon Go" on July 15, 2016 in Hanover, Germany.
Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images<p>Besides, the Secret Service is not Babel Street's only client. Others <a href="https://www.inputmag.com/tech/cbp-ice-the-secret-service-are-reportedly-locate-x-to-track-people-through-their-apps" target="_blank">include</a> the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and others.</p><p>The Secret Service has <a href="https://www.protocol.com/government-buying-location-data" target="_blank">apparently used</a> Locate X to identify credit card skimming thieves. <a href="https://www.protocol.com/government-buying-location-data" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">According to</a> former employees of location-based companies that provide data to Babel Street, "the sale of personal location data from commercial firms to the government is more widespread and has been going on longer than previously known."</p><p>In 1985, Neil Postman wrote about Orwell's "1984" prophecy coming and going. In "Amusing Ourselves to Death," the cultural critic noted that Orwell got a lot right, but with "Brave New World," Aldous Huxley may have been the real winner when it comes to understanding the future. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture."</p><p>There's no need for a secret government plot to microchip us. Tech companies sold chips that we willingly bought; governments are simply purchasing the rights to locate them. That's not a conspiracy. We're staring straight into the truth every single day. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
The year 2020 will go down in history as one that shook our inner and outer worlds.
8 powerful voices share what it's like to be black in America, and why white people must break the racist status quo.
- Black communities have been telling the nation, for more than a century, that they have been targeted, beaten, falsely accused and killed by the police and other institutions meant to protect them.
- They have not been believed until recently, when the rise in camera phones and social media finally enabled them show and disseminate proof.
- Even after the video of George Floyd's death on May 25, 2020, there remains defensiveness and denial among white Americans and institutions—a defensiveness that prevents change to the root of the problem: systemic racism. In this video, eight powerful voices share perspectives on being black in America, and why white inaction and white politeness must end.
It turns out big ideas don't always fit in sign-sized slogans.
- People are talking a lot about abolishing police lately, but what does that mean?
- We spoke with an expert on the subject, who reveals the nuance in the idea.
- Like any broad concept, there are a diversity of ideas expressed in the slogan.