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Campaign Zero: Doing the Hard Work on Police Accountability

August 19, 2020, 9:32 am

In many other posts, I have credited BLM for bringing attention to police accountability issues but have criticized them for not doing the hard local work to start fixing things (“defund the police” and looting Apple stores both being, to my mind, equally ineffectual approaches).

My son made me familiar with Campaign Zero, which does seem to be doing the hard local work to change laws and union contracts.  They have state by state and city by city progress lists at passing key pieces of their reform agenda, model legislation, etc.  I also like the fact that while they acknowledge racism as part of the problem, they frame the issue more broadly as a general issue of police violence and accountability.  I don’t agree with 100% of their program but as a libertarian I long ago got comfortable making common cause at less than 100% levels of agreement.

Their solutions page is really very impressive, and head and shoulders above most of the popular discourse I see on this topic.  here for example are subpoints under “End For Profit Policing”, just one of their 10 action planks.  I love the links to actual model legislation where it exists.  This is how change will happen on this issue.

Police should be working to keep people safe, not contributing to a system that profits from stopping, searching, ticketing, arresting and incarcerating people.

POLICY SOLUTIONS

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End police department quotas for tickets and arrests

Ban police departments from using ticket or arrest quotas to evaluate the performance of police officers

(Ex: Illinois law)

Limit fines and fees for low-income people

Pass policies requiring local governments to:

  • ban issuing fines or arrest warrants for civilians who fail to appear in court for a traffic citation (Ex: Ferguson Policy)
  • ban generating more than 10% of total municipal revenue from fines and fees (Ex: Missouri law)
  • allow judges discretion to waive fines and fees for low-income people or initiate payment plans (Ex: Pennsylvania law)
  • prohibit courts from ordering individuals on parole or probation to pay supervision fees and other correctional fees

Prevent police from taking the money or property of innocent people

Prohibit police from:

  • seizing property of civilians (i.e. civil forfeiture) unless they are convicted of a crime and the state establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture
  • keeping any property that has legally been forfeited (instead, this property should go to a general fund)
  • participating in the federal Equitable Sharing program that allows police to engage in civil asset forfeiture

(Ex: New Mexico law)

Require police departments to bear the cost of misconduct

  • Require the cost of misconduct settlements to be paid out of the police department budget instead of the City’s general fund
  • Restrict police departments from receiving more money from the general fund when they go over-budget on lawsuit payments

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