Or worse yet, such "revenue collecting" focus, can turn a Police Dept into the instrument of Institutional Racism -- as we have disturbingly learned in Ferguson, Missouri.
Ferguson shows how a police force can turn into a plundering ‘collection agency’
by Terrence McCoy, washingtonpost.com -- March 5, 2015
Here’s Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson writing to the city manager: “Municipal Court gross revenue for calendar year 2012 passed the $2,000,000 mark for the first time in history, reaching $2,066,050 (not including red light photo enforcement.)” The city manager was thrilled. “Awesome!” he wrote. “Thanks!”
The staff also patted themselves on the back for charging more for petty offenses than other municipalities. “Our investigation found instances in which the court charged $302 for a single Manner of Walking violation; $427 for a single Peace Disturbance violation; $531 for high Grass and Weeds; $777 for Resisting Arrest; and $792 for Failure to Obey, and $527 for Failure to Comply, which officers appear to use interchangeably,” the Justice Department found.
And when people couldn’t pay, they were arrested. Around 21,000 people live in Ferguson. But in 2013, the city’s municipal court issued a staggering 32,975 arrest warrants for minor offenses, according to Missouri state records. [...]
The Ferguson police and courts have come under broad criticism for discriminatory practices. 85% of people subjected to vehicle stops are African American, according to the report. 90% of people hit with citations are African American. 93% of people arrested are African American. [...]
There have been some
positive changes in Ferguson policing leadership lately -- but not nearly enough.
As long as law enforcement focuses their "efforts" on certain groups of people, to the exclusion of others, then they will still be the prejudicial "instruments" of a very broken system:
The choices police make about which people to target, what to target them for, and when to arrest and book them, play a major role in who ultimately gets locked up. As we have seen, those choices are also made within the larger picture of a system of policing that is set up to target poor people, people of color, immigrants, and people who do not conform to socially acceptable behavior on the street or in their homes. [...] While, ostensibly, the police are on the street to stop or solve "crime," their mere presence is a means of enforcing social control. Furthermore, policing routinely incorporates violence to maintain its systemic power as well as the individual power of police officers.
-- What is the Prison Industrial Complex?
by Rachel Herzing, Critical Resistance; publiceye.org
Congressman Cleaver Announces Introduction of The Fair Justice Act
Legislation would make it a civil rights violation to enforce criminal or traffic laws for the purpose of raising revenue.
cleaver.house.gov, Press Release -- March 9, 2015
Today, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05) in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Selma, and in response to the tragic events of Ferguson, announced his plan to introduce a bill to ban criminal and traffic law enforcement activities motivated by revenue raising purposes.
Announcing introduction of the Fair Justice Act, Congressman Cleaver stated, "The time has come to end the practice of using law enforcement as a cash register, a practice that has impacted too many Americans and has disproportionately affected minority and low-income communities. No American should have to face arbitrary police enforcement, the sole purpose of which is to raise revenue for a town, city, or state.”
Congressman Cleaver's Fair Justice Act would make it a civil rights violation, punishable by up to five years in prison, to enforce criminal or traffic laws solely to raise revenue. Thus, no official or agency of a state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision may adopt a policy or engage in any activity that authorizes, promotes, or executes the enforcement of criminal, civil, or traffic laws for the purpose of raising revenue.
Near as I can tell however the Fair Justice Act of 2015, never got introduced as a Bill (?). Perhaps that due to the serious push-back upon its announcement, push-back to the idea from mostly Law Enforcement advocates (and local municipalities) -- most of whom were basically saying that such a Revenue Limiting Law 'would prevent Police from doing their jobs
Perhaps it is long past time that the American People got around to redefining:
What exactly that "Job of Policing" should actually mean ... ?
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