We went inside the Baltimore Police Department to see what de-escalation training looks like – and how it could help fix policing

  • Police departments across the country are looking for ways to reform following the police killing of George Floyd and other incidents.
  • In Baltimore, new police officers undergo 16 hours of de-escalation training. The training was implemented after the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.
  • This training could be a key to restoring community trust in the police department, but there’s a lot of work to be done.
  • We visited the Baltimore Police Department to see what de-escalation training is really like, and what it will take for it to actually make a difference.
  • View more episodes of Business Insider Today on Facebook.

Baltimore Police Department’s Lieutenant Scott Swenson starts off the training session with a video of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Swenson pauses the video at the moment Officer Derek Chauvin presses his knee on George Floyd’s neck.

“8 minutes, 46 seconds. Time to intervene there?” Swenson asks the class.

“Yes,” the new trainees respond in unison. One soon-to-be officer says he would grab Chauvin and “take him off.”

“You sure?” Swenson asks the class, turning to face the group. He reminds the students that the officers accompanying Chauvin had only been on the force for four days, like they themselves would be soon.

“It’s easy to sit here in this room and say you’ll intervene, but will you?” he said. “Make your mind up.”

This is the beginning of Baltimore Police Department sixteen hour de-escalation course – one of several police departments across the nation implementing de-escalation training.

Back in June, Business Insider Today visited the department to see what the training looks like. And while it’s not clear whether de-escalation training is effective, it very well may be one step forward for police departments to regain the trust of their skeptical communities.

“Kill me! Kill me!”

baltimore police
The Baltimore Police Department is one of many departments across the US implementing de-escalation training for officers.

In the first de-escalation scenario, officers are dispatched to a makeshift home where they have limited information about the unfolding scene. One of the role players acts as the suspect’s family member.

“So my cousin’s in there. He’s got the knife, he’s off his meds. He’s in there by himself right now,” the role player says.

The officers-to-be make their way to the door.

“Officer Coleman, BPD,” the trainee yells from behind the door. “This is not worth it. There’s always other options, sir.”

Novice officers go through a rigorous course in Baltimore where they must stop a suspect without applying heavy-handed force. Officers are paired with a partner and enter a room where someone is holding a knife.

During the first scenario, Officer Savannah Porter chooses to protect herself and her partner by deploying a taser instead of finding less lethal options, like closing the door.

“Getting tunnel vision is probably the hardest part. It’s realizing that there is an entire world happening outside of what’s going on,” Porter said.

The training program was created by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit for policing that trains departments in de-escalation techniques. New officers are taught to create distance between themselves and a suspect. It also encourages them to find cover to protect themselves, instead of reaching for their weapons.

The second and third scenarios are called “Fluid Knife” and “Static Knife.” Trainees enter a room backwards and are told to turn around to begin the scene. In the “Static Knife” scenario, role player and BPD detective Tony Cabezas walks determinedly toward novice officer Savannah Porter.

“Kill me, kill me!” Cabezas yells.

“Put the knife down!” Savannah shouts back. After realizing the approaching suspect will not drop his knife, Savannah deploys her replica stun gun – “Taser, taser, taser!” she shouts. (New officers don’t carry real weapons during training.)

“Not every situation can be de-escalated. When de-escalation training first came out, there was a lot of concern from officers. ‘Does this mean that my safety has to be compromised?’ ‘Does this mean that I have to be hurt or for this to be effective?’ And the answer is no,” Swenson said.

To get a better understanding of what the new officers go through, I gave the “Static Knife” scenario a try. Swenson, as my partner, entered the room with me. When we turned around, we were facing a man holding a prop knife close to his wrist.

“My life is over,” Calbezas said.

BIT_1203_Facebook_Baltimore_FINAL.00_02_03_01.Still010
Soon-to-be officers began the training by watching the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

I timidly asked if he’d mind putting it down so we could talk as the knife hovered over his wrist. We went back and forth for about 15 minutes before he began to calm down, eventually dropping the knife altogether.

Now, in full instructor mode, Calbezas admits he was taken aback by my constant questioning. Swenson, who’s back to being an instructor and no longer my partner, chimes in.

“So how do we get officers to talk like you and hit all those points,” he said, “while still keeping themselves – everybody around them – safe?”

The old way of policing isn’t working.

“De-escalation, for the most part, was when a suspect stops resisting, you stop using force,” Swenson said.

It’s a different type of training, one that most officers who’ve been on the force for a long time never went through.

That goes for Angel Villaronga, a former Baltimore police officer who de-escalated a standoff in 2017 with a man who was holding a knife and threatening to kill himself or goad the responding officers into shooting him.

The footage shows Villaronga speaking calmly to the suspect, even when the suspect begins yelling and walking down the street, expanding the responding officers’ perimeter. After some back and forth, the suspect succumbs to Villaronga’s pleas and gives him the knife.

“At the end of the day, I do have a uniform. I do have a job to do. But killing you? That’s not a part of my job,” Villaronga said.

Many of the new officers we spoke with said they come to Baltimore because they see the city is viewed as a tough policing assignment. One officer who is a Baltimore native, Keona Holley, says most new officers in her cohort aren’t from Baltimore, and the community suffers because of it.

“The community needs Baltimore city police officers that are here because they care,” she said. “And people that’s not born and raised in Baltimore, they don’t understand how I feel. This is my home. The community is hurting.”

BIT_1203_Facebook_Baltimore_FINAL.00_10_23_18.Still025
Black residents in Baltimore are no stranger to police brutality and uses of excessive police force.

Black residents are used to witnessing police brutality.

A recent survey of Baltimore residents found more than 60% of respondents were not satisfied with their police department. More than half said they witnessed police using excessive force.

Seasoned community organizer Ray Kelly says he’s seen it all firsthand.

“That’s the American way – to use force. That’s how America became America,” Kelly said.

Kelly leads the Citizens Policing Project and is the lead community liaison for the Consent Decree Monitoring Team. He also helped organize The People’s Decree Summit, where almost 100 residents, 13 organizations, and 11 representatives from the Department of Justice gathered to look over recommendations for how the city’s neighborhoods should be policed.

Those recommendations were later reflected in the department’s consent decree.

“My subject matter, expertise, doesn’t come from any years of college,” Kelly said. “I’m from the streets. I’ve been arrested. I’ve been mistreated by police.”

Born just a couple of years after the Baltimore Riots, Kelly has witnessed what he says is disfranchisement.

“This community’s been so disinvested over the past few decades that we’ve learned to take care of our own,” he said.

BIT_1203_Facebook_Baltimore_FINAL.00_09_31_02.Still024
Experts hope de-escalation training is a key to gaining back the community’s trust in police.

When it comes to policing, Black people in the city are used to seeing problems with policing in their backyard – most memorably when Freddie Gray was arrested in 2015. Multiple video accounts from the arrest showed the 25-year-old Black man struggling and screaming while officers dragged him into a van in his neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester. He sustained a neck and spinal injury that led to his death a week later.

Thousands of people took to the streets to protest police brutality. The incident sent shockwaves across the nation. Inside the Baltimore Police Department, Swenson remembers training some of the officers involved.

“They would have went through the typical 80 hours of defensive tactics, 16 hours of the baton,” he shared. “They wouldn’t have gotten the de-escalation training program as you saw it today. We knew we had to make some changes.”

The Department of Justice launched an investigation that eventually led to the department’s consent decree, which mandated training like de-escalation.

Still, it’s not clear if de-escalation training actually works.

There’s no comprehensive list that shows how many police departments train in de-escalation.

But a recent CBS survey of 155 large police departments found that the majority had some sort of de-escalation training. Still, that represents only a fraction of the almost 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

On top of that, research shows de-escalation training has not been systematically evaluated. Of the trainings that have been reviewed, there have only been moderate benefits of improvement for officers and their communities.

One way to measure the success of a de-escalation program is through a reduction in use-of-force incidents. A recently released study found the implementation of the Police Executive Research Forum’s de-escalation training model in the Louisville Police Department helped reduce use-of-force incidents by 28%, citizen injuries by 26%, and officer injuries by 36%.

BIT_1203_Facebook_Baltimore_FINAL.00_01_33_20.Still008
Business Insider Today producer Marisa Palmer, center, participated in Baltimore’s de-escalation training.

After I asked Swenson if he thought it took something like a Freddie Gray incident for police departments to change, he paused for a few seconds.

“Unfortunately I’d say a lot of changes are often written in mistakes of the past,” he admitted. “Sometimes it takes a catalyst to force you into looking at what you’re doing and making the necessary changes.”

Some, like Villaronga, say it takes empathy to de-escalate situations.

“Sometimes that’s just not taught. It’s just grown into you,” he said.

Meanwhile, many community members simply hope for sustained reform.

“As Black people, we’ve been watching these types of actions for over 50 years,” Kelly said. “The hope is that one day we won’t have to deal with another Freddie Gray incident, George Floyd.”

“If we can eliminate the killing of unarmed Black men by the police, then that’ll rejuvenate nationwide hope that things can change around the country.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Boston patrol cop allegedly abused a 12-year-old in 1995. Last year the victim reported that his daughter was abused by the same cop, who kept his badge despite an investigation finding he likely committed the crime.

Boston police
A Boston police car sits outside the Long Wharf Marriott hotel in Boston on March 12, 2020.

  • A former Boston patrolman is facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting minors.
  • The Boston Police Department knew of allegations since 1995, the Boston Globe reported.
  • Last summer, six minors came forward with new allegations of abuse against Patrick M. Rose Sr.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Boston Police Department knew its union leader had previous allegations of sexual assault against a minor before a man and his daughter went to a police station last summer to report she had been molested, the Boston Globe reported.

In 1995, the father had also alleged Patrick M. Rose Sr. assaulted him when he was 12 years old. The police department at the time filed a criminal complaint against Rose and investigated the accusations. They found that it was likely that Rose had committed a crime.

The boy was reportedly pressured to recant his story and the criminal investigation was dropped in 1996, but a police internal affairs investigation continued and found that Rose broke the law.

Additionally, court records showed that after the criminal case was dropped, Rose’s abuse of the boy continued and also “escalated,” but the department has not said what disciplinary action if any was taken.

Despite this, he was still able to keep his badge and work as a patrolman for 21 more years, and also served as the head of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association from 2014 until he retired in 2018, the Globe reported.

Rose was arrested in August of last year after the daughter’s allegations. Since then, five more people have come forward with allegations against him.

Mass Live reported last August that the girl, now 14, alleged she was repeatedly assaulted by Rose between the ages of 7 and 12.

He’s now in jail and faces 33 counts of sexual abuse. The six victims range from 7 to 16 years old.

Three of the victims who came forward said Rose assaulted them in the 1990s and another said the assault took place in recent years, Mass Live reported.

“My client maintains his innocence to all of the charges that have been brought against him and he maintains his innocence to what was alleged to have transpired back in 1995,” his attorney, William J. Keefe, told the Globe.

The Boston Police Department did not reply to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.

The Globe learned that despite the known allegations and internal review results, Rose was still allowed contact with children in his role, in some cases being dispatched to assist minors in sexual assault cases.

In 1999 he was sent to help a 14-year-old girl who called police crying, reporting that she’d been raped. He was also the arresting officer in a 2006 child sex assault case.

“What we’re describing here is an example of an institutional and systemic failure,” former Boston police lieutenant Tom Nolan told the Globe. “The department had a responsibility to ensure that this individual was no longer employed in the ranks of the Boston Police Department.”

Rose is currently being held in the Berkshire County Jail on $200,000 cash bail.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at salarshani@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

A college student hit a police officer over the head with his skateboard during the Capitol riot, says indictment

capitol riot siege
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • A college student has been charged for striking a police officer with his skateboard during the Capitol riot.
  • Grady Douglas Owens, 21, was caught on bodycam footage striking the officer over the head.
  • The officer, who was not named, was left with a concussion and an injury to his finger.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Florida college student has been charged with striking a Metropolitan Police officer over the head with a skateboard at the Capitol riots, according to a Department of Justice press release.

Grady Douglas Owens, 21, from Winter Park, Florida, was arrested on April 1 after being caught on bodycam video using his skateboard, which bore the phrase “White Fang,” to hit a police officer over the head.

The officer, who has not been named, was left with a concussion and an injury to his finger, according to an affidavit released earlier this month.

Read more: Visa’s PAC gave politicians $139,000 in March after vowing to pause contributions because of the Capitol insurrection

The 21-year-old, who is a student at Full Sail University, has been charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, and violent entry of the Capitol building, among other things. He faces 36 years in prison if convicted.

Federal investigators were able to track him down with the help of social media. His Instagram account, which described him as a “mix and mastering engineer,” according to the New York Post, has since been taken down.

An employee of Full Sail University later positively identified him.

More than 400 people have been charged in the Capitol insurrection, which resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer.

Of the cases, at least 32 are from Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Police in multiple US cities are reportedly preparing for and anticipating white supremacist rallies this weekend

police
Police officers on October 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Police forces are aware of and preparing for white supremacist rallies happening this weekend.
  • Organizers have largely kept secret rally locations, but New York and Chicago are among the cities expected to see them.
  • Several counterprotests have been planned to mobilize against the message of the white pride rally attendees.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Police forces across the country are reportedly preparing for white supremacist rallies planned for this weekend.

White supremacist groups are organizing the rallies over encrypted messaging app Telegram, Newsweek first reported. There are also public event pages on Facebook suggesting there will be several rallies on Sunday, April 11.

“Patriots all over this nation are peacefully marching to raise awareness for whites being victims of massive interracial crime and also persecution by the government,” one Facebook event page reads.

“This is happening in every majority white nation on earth. Time to make a stand. Please join your brothers and sisters in this amazing event,” the event description continues.

Organizers have, for the most part, not disclosed the locations planned for these rallies. But Newsweek and local news outlets reported that police have identified numerous cities where the white supremacist rallies are expected. Among them are New York, Fort Worth, and Chicago.

The Facebook event page encourages people to organize a rally in their own city.

It’s unclear how many people these planned rallies will attract.

But officials who are aware of planned rallies this weekend in their cities are taking steps to prepare, news outlets reported.

Huntington Beach police in California, for example, are aware of an event to “unify White people against white hate” circulating on social media and planned for this Sunday.

Interim Police Chief Julian Harvey told the San Bernardino Sun that the police are preparing for large crowds in case the rally attracts a lot of people.

“Like any demonstration in the city, we are preparing and will continue to prepare until the day,” he said. “We do have a plan to ensure public safety – not just the safety of the participants and the attendees, but also residents, businesses and motorists.”

The Asheville Police Department in North Carolina told Newsweek its officers have been briefed on the “call for action around the country” coming from white supremacists. The department is tracking any action, Newsweek reported.

In response to the planned rallies, counterprotesters have also begun to organize.

The local Black Lives Matter chapter in Huntington Beach, for example, is assembling for a counterprotest a few hours ahead of the planned white supremacist rally, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

And in Albuquerque, New Mexico, counterprotesters are encouraging residents to “rally against white supremacy in all its forms.”

“On Sunday, April 11th – local Proud Boys and White Supremacists are planning on hosting a ‘White Lives Matter’ Event on the Albuquerque Civic Plaza alongside a national day of actions by far-right extremists across the United States – we refuse to let them bring their violence to our beautifully diverse city because white supremacy has no place here,” a Facebook event page for the counterprotest reads.

“Please wear your masks, bring creative signs, water, plan on being loud, and bring your friends – we have safety in numbers,” the page says.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Pelosi ordered flags to be flown at half-staff after a Capitol Police officer died following car-ramming incident

US Capitol
The U.S. Capitol is seen past the Washington Monument as a flock of Geese fly over the National Mall on President’s Day, February 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the US Capitol on Friday.
  • A US Capitol Police officer died after an incident where a man rammed two officers with a car at a security barrier.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the US Capitol on Friday. A US Capitol Police officer died after an incident where a man rammed two officers with a car at a security barrier.

At a press conference on Friday, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said that a Capitol Police officer died and another was injured after someone rammed a car into a barricade outside the US Capitol building on Friday.

According to Pittman, the suspect “exited the car with a knife in hand” and lunged at the officers. Pittman said that the suspect did not comply with a verbal command, and the officers opened fire, killing the suspect, she added.

The Capitol went into lockdown earlier Friday after Capitol Police texted an alert telling people in the complex to stay indoors because of an “external security threat.” Congress is in recess and neither the House nor the Senate are in session.

At the press conference, hours after the attack, Pittman said the security threat was “neutralized.”

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

YouTube will not remove a three-hour livestream of the Colorado grocery store shooting

King Sooper Boulder shootings
Police respond at a King Soopers grocery store where a gunman opened fire on March 22, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado. Ten people were killed in the attack.

  • On March 22, 10 people were killed by a shooter at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, CO.
  • As the shooting unfolded, a YouTuber at the store began livestreaming what happened.
  • The three-hour video, which is now archived on YouTube, won’t be removed, YouTube says.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

On March 22, 10 people were killed in a shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

As the shooting unfolded, a man named Dean Schiller began livestreaming what he saw on YouTube. The video captures the bodies of victims on the ground and ongoing police activity. At one point in the video, Schiller argues with police who ask him to stop filming.

“I’m a journalist. There’s a lot of people who want to watch this right now,” Schiller says in the video. “I’m willing to risk my life for this.”

Despite depictions of graphic violence, YouTube isn’t removing the video.

“Following the tragic shooting in Boulder, bystander videos of the incident were detected by our teams. Violent content intended to shock or disgust viewers and hate speech are not allowed on YouTube, and as a result we have removed a number of videos for violating our policies,” YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez told Insider. “We do allow certain violent or graphic content with sufficient news or documentary context, and so we’ve applied an age restriction to this particular content. We will continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation.”

Schiller’s video, which is published on his ZFG Videography channel, features a prominent warning before it can be viewed:

YouTube content warning
The content warning YouTube puts in front of potentially disturbing videos.

YouTube has been repeatedly criticized for moderation – or lack thereof – in the past.

The company has even been sued by former content moderators, one of which claimed her job at the company led to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Schiller’s video, which the company characterizes as “news or documentary,” had just shy of 750,000 views as of Wednesday morning.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The House passed a police reform bill named for George Floyd that would ban choke holds and ‘qualified immunity’ for officers

FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators march from the U.S. Capitol Building during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo
Protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington DC.

  • The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act late Wednesday.
  • The bill would be the most ambitious police reform passed in the US in decades.
  • The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it needs at least 10 GOP votes to become law.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The US House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act late Wednesday, in a party-line vote on the most ambitious policing reform bill in decades.

The bill is named for George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who was killed in May of last year when a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, prompting a summer of racial justice protests nationwide.

The legislation would ban the use of neck restraints at the federal level, get rid of “qualified immunity” for police officers, and prohibit no-knock warrants in federal drug cases.

Under current law, qualified immunity prevents public officials from being held personally liable for wrongdoing that occurs while on the job, making it difficult to sue police officers. Democrats tried to get rid of it last year, saying doing so would make it easier for police officers to be held accountable for misconduct.

The latest reform bill was passed after President Joe Biden indicated support for it on Twitter and in a statement on Monday. 

“To make our communities safer, we must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect. We cannot rebuild that trust if we do not hold police officers accountable for abuses of power and tackle systemic misconduct – and systemic racism – in police departments,” the statement said.

House Democrats tried to pass a version of the bill last year but were blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes in order for it to become law.

Some Republicans have said the bill would make it harder for police to do their jobs. On the House floor Wednesday, GOP Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida said the bill would “weaken and possibly destroy our community’s police forces,” NPR reported.

But Rep. Karen Bass, who introduced the latest legislation, said she believes lawmakers will work together to pass the bill in the Senate, NBC reported. “Many of our Republican colleagues said they thought they could get to yes on this, but they had some difficulties,” Bass said of last year’s bill.

The bill also outlaws racial profiling, establishes a national registry of police misconduct, and requires state and local agencies to report use of force data by categories that includes race, sex, and religion.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ithaca mayor is set to propose a plan to replace the city’s police with a civilian-led agency, report says

Svante Myrick mayor of Ithaca
Svante Myrick, mayor of Ithaca, NY.

  • Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick plans to propose a plan to replace the city’s police with a civilian-led agency, GQ reported.
  • The plan was created as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order for New York cities to review their police departments.
  • The proposal includes an agency with armed “public safety workers” and unarmed “community solution workers.”
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The mayor of Ithaca, New York, is set to propose a plan to abolish the city’s police force and replace it with a new civilian-led agency, GQ reported Monday.

According to a nearly 100-page report reviewed by GQ, Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick will suggest abolishing the city’s current police department and replace with a “Department of Community Solutions and Public Safety.”

The plan would replace the department, staffed with 63 officers that costs $12.5 million a year to run, with an agency with armed “public safety workers” and unarmed “community solution workers,” all under the helm of a civilian director of public safety rather than a police chief, GQ reported.

“IPD currently spends one third of its time responding to calls for service that essentially never lead to arrests,” Myrick wrote in the report’s introduction, according to GQ. “Those calls, as well as a majority of patrol activity, can and should be handled by unarmed Community Solution Workers well trained in de-escalation and service delivery. This will allow our new Public Safety Workers to focus on preventing, interrupting and solving serious crime.”

The main goal of the plan is to reduce the number of encounters between civilians and armed officers, GQ reported. Service calls will be evaluated to determine whether an armed or unarmed respondent is necessary for the situation, or if it should be outsourced to a different public entity entirely.

GQ also reported that calls regarding mental health crises will be “outsourced to a standalone unit of social workers based on the CAHOOTS program pioneered in Eugene, Oregon.”

In an interview with GQ on Sunday, Myrick told the publication that he acknowledged his plan is a “radical thing for a city and a mayor to do.”

“Everyone wants the police to perform better when they show up, everybody wants that,” Myrick told GQ. “What this plan is saying is that we also want the police to show up less – and that’s a radical thing for a city and a mayor to do.”

The proposal was made as part of an executive order signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo requiring New York cities to conduct comprehensive reviews of their police departments. Last summer, the Black Lives Matter protests prompted by the death of George Floyd renewed calls for police reform – namely, defunding and abolishing police departments.

Advocates for defunding the police demanded that funding be diverted from the police department and instead given to social programs and development, Insider’s Ellen Cranley reported.

While some departments have seen large budget cuts in the wake of the protests – including $150 million in cuts for the Los Angeles Police Department and the Austin Police Department, respectively- the move of abolishing and recreating police departments has been more or less unprecedented prior to Myrick’s proposal.

In order to move forward with implementing the plan, it would need approval from the city council, which the mayor said, he believes, will happen.

Myrick was elected as mayor in 2011, becoming the city’s first Black mayor and youngest mayor at the time at 24 years old. Myrick, now 33, has been at odds with Ithaca’s police union in previous years, raising the question if the union will support his plan to reform the department, which he hopes to have up-and-running by summer 2023.

“I do think it will be a big battle,” Myrick told GQ. “Fox News will lose their s—.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A bitcoin stash worth $68 million was seized by German police, but the owner won’t give up his password

Bitcoin
About 20% of all bitcoin, is stranded in wallets because forgot their passwords.

  • Germany police reportedly seized about 1,700 bitcoin, but the owner won’t give up his password.
  • “Perhaps he doesn’t know” the password, a German prosecutor told Reuters.
  • At Saturday’s bitcoin price, the stash was worth about $67.9 million.  
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

German prosecutors reportedly are holding about 1,700 bitcoin confiscated from a bitcoin miner, but the man won’t give them his password to unlock the cryptocurrency. 

“We asked him but he didn’t say,” Sebastian Murer, a prosecutor, told Reuters on Friday. “Perhaps he doesn’t know.”

At Saturday’s bitcoin price, the stash was worth about $67.9 million.  

The bitcoin miner, who was from Kempten, Bavaria, was not named in the report. He was sentenced to about two years in prison after installing bitcoin mining software on others’ computers, using them to remotely to build a sum of bitcoin, according to Reuters.

He reportedly kept his mined bitcoin in a password-protected digital wallet, which is a common way to hold the digital currency.

Without the password, there’s no way to open a digital wallet. 

Read more: 4 heavyweight investing firms answer the 5 most burning bitcoin questions facing investors as the cryptocurrency sees unprecedented volatility

Last month, another man in Germany had a bitcoin stash of about $220 million rendered inaccessible because he’d lost his password. In January, a man from the Welsh city of Newport said he’d mistakenly thrown away about 7,500 bitcoin, worth about $275 million. 

About $140 billion in bitcoin, or about 20% of all bitcoin, is stranded in wallets because forgot their passwords, according to The New York Times. 

As the cryptocurrency has ballooned in the last few months, locked-out owners have watched the value climb. Bitcoin hit $40,000 last month for the first time, then $41,000, before pulling back. It’s since climbed again, and, as of Saturday, its 24-hour high was $39,982.81, according to CoinDesk

Read the original article on Business Insider

Far-right police officers have been serving all along – the Capitol riot just pointed them out

GettyImages 1230468399
Security forces respond with tear gas after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol.

  • Several off-duty cops were found to be at the Capitol riot on January 6.
  • Three police experts told Insider they weren’t surprised to see that.
  • Law-enforcement agents have long had ties to far-right groups, they said, which the riot only exposed.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

At a time when faith in American law enforcement was already at a record low, trust in the police was further shaken by the arrests of several off-duty police officers suspected to be involved in the deadly Capitol riot on January 6.

At least 31 officers in 12 states are currently being investigated over their suspected behavior in Washington, DC, according to the Associated Press. Some of them also face criminal charges for participating in the riot. 

They include Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson, two off-duty cops from Rocky Mount, Virginia, who were arrested after they took a selfie inside the Capitol and alluded to participating in the breach on social media. Officer Tam Pham, an 18-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, resigned after being charged in the riot.

The participation of all these police officers in the attack on the government has led many to wonder whether the police can be trusted with their core duty: to enforce the law.

Following the riot, Insider spoke to three experts on policing, who said they weren’t surprised to learn that off-duty officers were involved in the storming of the Capitol.

They said the police have always had ties to far-right groups, and that the Capitol riot had merely exposed them.

They said Americans have a right to be concerned about some officers becoming radicalized, but steps can be taken to ensure that extremists don’t continue to infiltrate police departments across the country.

blue lives matter
A Trump supporter holds the “Blue Lives Matter” flag at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Tarnishing police reputation 

All three experts noted that police officers have the same First Amendment rights to free speech as everyone else, but said that in joining the mob in storming the Capitol, the officers crossed a line. 

Thomas Nolan, a former police officer turned sociology professor, told Insider that it was an “aberration” that some off-duty cops joined the violence, facing off with fellow officers tasked with protecting the Capitol.

Among the five people who died in the riot was Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher.

“I was surprised that they were participating in the rioting and that they weren’t reluctant to cause injury and to confront fellow officers,” Nolan said.

Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson
Off-duty Virginia police officers Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson were arrested after taking this selfie during the Capitol riot.

Dennis Kenney, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the arrest of police officers at the riot does serious damage to “the police brand and the idea of police being neutral, even-handed enforcers of the law.” 

“When they clearly portray themselves to have a position – particularly a radical position – understandably the public has doubts about them,” Kenney told Insider. “That becomes problematic because the social contract that allows the police to do their job breaks down.” 

Ties to right-wing movements

Elliot Currie, a criminology professor at the University of California, Irvine, said “it’s always surprising when you see people who were supposed to be defending the Constitution …. violating that in this very stark way.”

He said, however, that “we have a long history of that kind of behavior both by police and former police” – a point both Kenney and Nolan agreed on. 

“This is nothing new,” Nolan said. “Law-enforcement officers have a history of being associated with right-wing extremists, white supremacists, and right-wing militia groups. That goes back decades.”

“In fact, in the early history of policing in the United States, there were strong associations with organizations like the Ku Klux Klan.”

oath keepers
Men belonging to the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia made up of current and former military, police, and first responders, seen at the Trump rally on January 6, 2021.

‘Impunity’ in the Trump era

While police associations with far-right groups may not be new, Kenney and Currie suggested that former President Donald Trump’s embracing of these groups may have lifted the lid.

Currie said he thinks “the Trump era has probably” fueled police politicization, because Trump’s apparent support for far-right movements gave officers with these political ideologies a sense of “impunity.”

“I think we sometimes underestimate just how much it matters that people in the highest levels of authority are basically telling you it’s OK, it’s OK to do stuff you thought you weren’t supposed to do,” Currie said. 

Kenney said the fact that these officers are feeling “comfortable becoming more public” with their ideologies can even be seen as a good thing.

“It’s something that police agencies and the military have promised to aggressively confront now, which is a positive thing,” Kenney said.  

Read more: Trump tested the Constitution and shredded traditions. Biden and the Democrats have big plans of their own about what to do next.

Before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the FBI took the extra step of conducting a review of the 25,000 National Guardsmen who were deployed to protect the Capitol for the event.

Ultimately, 12 National Guardsmen were pulled from working the event, with at least two having suspected connections to far-right militias, according to the Associated Press.

Nolan said the FBI probably doesn’t have “the capability” or “the inclination” to conduct a review of the nation’s hundreds of thousands of police officers, but that it’s possible to step up background checks on people applying to be officers to make sure they don’t have ties to concerning groups.

“There have been public proclamations on the part of police administrators that there will be no place for officers who participate in riotous insurrections in the ranks of police officers,” Nolan said. “So I think we’re going to see some of these guys get fired for going down to DC and participating in that riot.”

“I’m somewhat heartened by the exposure that’s being brought to this issue and the willingness of police administrators – chiefs and police commissioners – to weed these officers out from their ranks because they don’t belong in policing,” he added.

Why police tend to be conservative

There are signs that the politicization of the police is a bigger issue than a couple dozen off-duty police officers taking part in a pro-Trump riot. 

Currie said there’s evidence that police politicization has “increased and intensified in the Trump era,” pointing to police unions endorsing Trump, given that political endorsements by police unions were somewhat rare until recently.

Nolan said that in his experience, “the majority of police officers are politically conservative.” 

Currie agreed, saying part of this has to do with the people who apply to be police officers already being “pretty conservative people.” 

What officers experience on the job also tends to push them further to the right, Nolan said.

Despite consistently falling violent crime numbers in the US, Nolan said that officers believe they are dealing with an “onslaught of violent crime” and that leads them to believe they are playing a crucial role as “the thin blue line between order and anarchy.”

For this reason, they would naturally tend to side with conservatives who echo these beliefs, as opposed to progressives who call for more checks on police power and authority.

GettyImages 1230733962
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

‘Don’t we pay you to enforce the laws?’

Currie said one of the things he finds “very troubling” is the recent trend of some sheriffs’ saying they’re “not going to enforce certain laws if they don’t like those laws.”

A recent example of this was when Sheriff Richard Giardino of Fulton County, New York – a Republican – said he would not enforce the governor’s order to limit Thanksgiving gatherings in the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: I was in DC for the inauguration. The overwhelming security state felt disturbingly similar to the worst parts of the post-9/11 response.

“Deciding that you’re not going to enforce regulations around COVID-19 because you don’t believe government should be doing that … well, one could reasonably say: ‘How do you as a sheriff decide you’re not going to do that? Don’t we pay you to enforce the laws?'” Currie said. 

The Capitol riot also shows the consequences of police politicization in a more “subtle” way, Currie said, in the way that the rioters were treated by Capitol Police compared to the Black Lives Matter protesters this summer. 

“Many commentators have pointed out that … if a crowd of BLM supporters had descended upon the Capitol building, it would have been a very different response, and I think that’s correct,” he said.

“The fact that you didn’t see that when it was a mostly white crowd is very revealing about the sort of fundamental political world view that many police have.”

“It’s a vision of who’s dangerous and who’s not in our society,” he said. “In this case, that’s very much divided along racial lines.”

Read the original article on Business Insider