What exactly is the purpose of the police?

I can't find the chart now, but I recently saw a comparison of US spending on police compared to military spending around the world, and US police spending came in 3rd world wide, just behind China's spending on their military.

I've long held the view that the police have little to do with crime rates going up or down. Police don't stop very many crimes - their presence is usually after the fact. The percentage of crimes solved by investigative units solved is pretty dismally low.

When it comes to criminal trials, it's a given that police will lie to protect their own.

NYC over the last few years, has paid around 200 million/year to settle complaints against police. And the officer involved rarely even gets a reprimand.

Police departments in the US might be the most corrupt institution we have.

And I haven't even mentioned their regular brutality against citizens.

What to do?


drummerboy said:

I can't find the chart now, but I recently saw a comparison of US spending on police compared to military spending around the world, and US police spending came in 3rd world wide, just behind China's spending on their military.

https://boingboing.net/2021/04/20/u-s-policing-budgets-would-rank-as-the-worlds-third-highest-military-expenditure.html

From the article: “The chart is somewhat misleading, though, in that the same is basically true of other wealthy countries: per-capita spending on police in Europe is also very high, but the countries are less populous. Police forces in the UK enjoy some $25bn in funding, for example, a spend proportionate to the US total that nonethless places it outside the top ten on the that military spending chart.”

When it comes to criminal trials, it's a given that police will lie to protect their own.

It doesn’t sound like you’ll be taking part in any criminal jury deliberations in the future, either.


meh, the "misleading" part is at the margins. Our police expenditures are extraordinary. And by their measure - is our number one spot for military spending also misleading?

And, does the 200 million that NYC spends every year covering the a$$es of their officers included as part of the police budget?

A more accurate measure might be comparing the US against all of Europe, since populations are kinda the same.

Ranked as a percentage of GDP, the US comes out in the middle - but exactly how accurate a measure is that?

And as boing-boing points out, our militarization of the police is a huge problem. Another part of the corruption of purpose of our police.

And do you disagree that the police have a long history of lying in court? If they ask me about beliefs about police honesty during jury selection, the only honest response is to acknowledge it.


drummerboy said:

A more accurate measure might be comparing the US against all of Europe, since populations are kinda the same.

This is all roughly calculated, and subject to fact-checking, but according to this Eurostat data set, the E.U. plus U.K. spent about $331 billion* on public order and safety in 2018:

https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/view/GOV_10A_EXP__custom_862976/default/table?lang=en

The U.S. figure for 2018 was $181 billion, according to the BoingBoing chart (sourced to the Census Bureau).

The E.U. plus U.K. population is about 500 million, which is about 50 percent more than the U.S. population. And $331 billion is 83 percent more than $181 billion.

*I used a 2018 conversion rate.


my calculator still doesn't work


If I can look up things on the web, you can get a new calculator.


fair enough.

anyway, I don't want to get sidetracked on the spending issue, as it is secondary to the real question, which is what do the police actually do for us?


Right. Because beyond the totals is the question of what the police agencies are spending the money on. More personnel? More training? Or more military-grade equipment? Which goes to your title question.


drummerboy said:


I've long held the view that the police have little to do with crime rates going up or down. Police don't stop very many crimes - their presence is usually after the fact. The percentage of crimes solved by investigative units solved is pretty dismally low.



 Considering your statement that "Police don't stop very many crimes - their presence is usually after the fact."  I guess just like it's illustrated in any good TV cop drama, they try to catch the perp to stop another similar crime from being committed. Then it is up to the courts to convict and possibly incarcerate. Seems like that responsibility rests on lawyers, judge and jury. My impression is that cops feel the problem stems from a lenient judicial system.

As for our need for so much money for police funding, part of the problem appears to be the ready availability of guns.


The question posed in this thread's title was answered years ago by the Honorable (sic) Richard Daley, Mayor of Chicago.

"The Police are not there to create disorder. They are there to preserve disorder"


Given that we give them all guns, I'd say the purpose of the police is to threaten to shoot, and sometimes shoot, people we've collectively decided deserve to be shot.

Given that the number of people we collectively believe should be shot is a lot smaller than the number of people we expect the police to deal with, we probably need to either not give every police officer a gun, or drastically reduce the number and types of situations we expect the police to be involved in. Probably both.


If we actually made every officer take "to protect and serve" to heart we wouldn't have most of the problems we have with law enforcement. 

The "serve" part is pretty much a joke. 


drummerboy said:

I've long held the view that the police have little to do with crime rates going up or down. Police don't stop very many crimes - their presence is usually after the fact. The percentage of crimes solved by investigative units solved is pretty dismally low.

 FWIW, the clearance rate of South Orange is much higher than the national average, state average and Essex Co. average. The SOPD rocks. 

Clearance rate for March: 87%

YTD clearance rate: 57%

What is Uniform Crime reporting?

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program compiles official data on crime and in turn is published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). UCR is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of over 18,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention. UCR statistics focuses on eight (8) major crimes, commonly known at Part 1 crimes and are listed above.

What does clearance rate mean?

Simply put, a police department's clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are "cleared" (criminal charges being brought) by the total number of crimes recorded. Clearance rates are often used as a measure of a police department's effectiveness. It should be noted that a "clear" doesn't always equate to an arrest and that it may sometimes merely indicate that the person who committed the offense has been identified. (ie, the case has been solved)

*National average for Part 1 crimes, clearance rate: 31.6%

*State average for Part 1 crimes, clearance rate: 21.8%

*Essex County average for Part 1 crimes, clearance rate: 16%

https://southorange.org/542/Police-Blotter


    cramer said:

    drummerboy said:

    I've long held the view that the police have little to do with crime rates going up or down. Police don't stop very many crimes - their presence is usually after the fact. The percentage of crimes solved by investigative units solved is pretty dismally low.

     FWIW, the clearance rate of South Orange is much higher than the national average, state average and Essex Co. average. The SOPD rocks. 

    Clearance rate for March: 87%

    YTD clearance rate: 57%

    What is Uniform Crime reporting?

    The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program compiles official data on crime and in turn is published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). UCR is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of over 18,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention. UCR statistics focuses on eight (8) major crimes, commonly known at Part 1 crimes and are listed above.

    What does clearance rate mean?

    Simply put, a police department's clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are "cleared" (criminal charges being brought) by the total number of crimes recorded. Clearance rates are often used as a measure of a police department's effectiveness. It should be noted that a "clear" doesn't always equate to an arrest and that it may sometimes merely indicate that the person who committed the offense has been identified. (ie, the case has been solved)

    *National average for Part 1 crimes, clearance rate: 31.6%

    *State average for Part 1 crimes, clearance rate: 21.8%

    *Essex County average for Part 1 crimes, clearance rate: 16%

    https://southorange.org/542/Police-Blotter

       interesting. thanks for the data.



      Please give me advance warning of any plans to abolish the police.  I will need time to buy some guns.  I suppose a couple of semi-auto .223 cal rifles and a couple of either 9 MM or .40 cal.   I would need to do some research.


      There are, apparently, a very large number of citizens who believe the existence of the Police does not provide them with sufficient reason not to have such weapons.



      this is just infuriating. read the whole thread, plus the ProPublica story that's linked in the thread.


      I got to chapter 4….. that’s it! Sick to my stomach. 

      drummerboy said:

      this is just infuriating. read the whole thread, plus the ProPublica story that's linked in the thread.

       


      In New Mexico, a bold experiment aims to take police out of the equation for mental health calls (WaPo)

      In one of the most tangible shifts in public safety since last year’s killing of George Floyd spawned anti-police-brutality protests nationwide, New Mexico’s largest city has established a new category of first responder. Starting in September, 911 dispatchers had an option beyond the police, with social workers and others in related fields patrolling the city and fielding calls pertaining to mental health, substance abuse or homelessness that otherwise would have been handled by an armed officer.


      drummerboy said:

      this is just infuriating. read the whole thread, plus the ProPublica story that's linked in the thread.

      Awful story for sure and it would have been nice if the police told the judge in this case to stand down.  But the bigger problem in this case is the "judge" ordering harsh treatment of children.


      tjohn said:

      Awful story for sure and it would have been nice if the police told the judge in this case to stand down.  But the bigger problem in this case is the "judge" ordering harsh treatment of children.

       Yeah, she's a real piece of work.


      Chicago police union urges officers to ‘hold the line’ over vaccine mandate. Mayor says ‘bring it on.’ (WaPo)

      One thing that's struck me with much of the news around police abuses is that this isn't simply about a few "bad apples," but in many cases seems to be about a real cultural problem in the way many police forces see themselves and their roles. There are of course many different police forces across the country, so I'd hesitate to draw a broad generalization about all police forces, but certainly a number of them have some serious issues here in the way they perceive the communities the have been hired to serve. In some cases, literally firing everyone and starting over starts to sound reasonable rather than radical.

      The story above isn't directly about that, but it had me thinking along those lines -- if your police officers can't even do the bare minimum to keep their community safe by getting a vaccine to stop the spread of a deadly virus, maybe they shouldn't be walking around with legal authorization to take people's lives?

      One thing that worries me is the implied follow up question though -- suppose a community does simply fire much of their police force wholesale and start over -- what processes and procedures would they take to make sure the new hires are truly qualified and able to serve at the level of professionalism and service a community should expect and deserve? That's an aspect of police reform I haven't seen much coverage on -- hiring practices with an aim to building a professional force with a healthy culture. In the particular story I cited above, I expect most people will end up getting vaccinated, but a significant number won't and will eventually be off the force -- and likely that's no great loss. But how will Chicago make sure their replacements are of a better caliber?



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