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tv   After Words Rosa Brooks Tangled Up in Blue  CSPAN  July 7, 2021 12:45am-1:44am EDT

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>> thank you for joining us on the police this one - - the police chief here in houston texas i am honored to visit with rosa brooks and to
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tangled up in the american city and with one pressing question so what made you leave the confines from your home to go get trained as a police officer in washington dc? >> if you ask my family that they say insanity. that is the driving force that you're not just directing traffic but is sworn armed police officer i thought no way. that is crazy. you will give a gun to a law professor? bad idea.
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policing has been in the spotlight for some years. and then to seem like a really rare opportunity into the worldd of policing. >> it reminds me when you say that my lawyer that handles that and she said i want my five oh moment. and of the top neighborhoods. and the reality of posting with that 24 hour news cycle or hollywood is not the most
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accurate. and that you need a truly transformative response to policing how defy those changes that is needed and what does that look like to you based on your several years of experience? >> that's a big question. let me back up by saying when i was working on this book people would say what is your argument? i would say it's complicated and that's the worst elevator pitch i ever heard. they were right. that was the worst but i was right. it is complicated so the goal
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the book is to make things even more complicated for those thinking of policing from the outside. so there is whiplash to self-sacrifice underappreciated heroes so it can be hard to that conversation they are mixed up together and if you want to transform policing we need to grapple with all of that. so part of it police can't change the laws by themselves and often police get the blame for enforcing laws that they cannot do much to change and in a way when we blame police for that the way for the rest of us not to look in the
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mirror and say cops are arresting people for trivial offenses will be voted for the lawmakers and when you look at long prison sentences a lot of that is prosecutors and judges and lawmakers. there are some things that cops can't change what we seen in the last couple of decades and those that make some of what police do things that they don't haveo to do anymore. there are things police departments need to be doing and one of the difficulties almost 80000 law enforcement agencies so it's very hard
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it's tough to get everybody to pay attention. so the cities ahead of the game focus on changing training and who they recruit and then what's going on in houston on - - in houston. because georgetown cosponsored with the dc metropolitan police and those discussions have a lot of fun. >> but the police were not broken. but what is interesting to me
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is it's a very deeply held beliefs. maybe there was malice involved and how can we be so diametrically perceptive and? fail to see things through the prism of others. you have a very unique perspective because you are a law professor and then what was supposed to be doing and the intent of our founders and the theory and that case law of what wasve experienced on the street in from your experience what could you say that when he not to defend the police
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from your perspective and what would you say to those on the policing side that black lives matter? cops are not going around whacking people because we find ourselves and executives try to hold the department to a standard andel a mindset so how would you address those two from your informed perspective quick. >> i learned not so much from this experience but by getting older is nobody's mind was ever changed by a being told they were stupid or evil. not a very effective way. i think we live in a political culture that lends itself to
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destroy a onn - - stereotypes into more nuanced discussions with almost every issue with this very divided moment and to get people to listen. but what i do say about abolish the police and many of my students start with that position is look, violent crime is real. it's not something the far right made up in order to have an excuse to lock up people of color absolutely. so be careful what you wish for a people in poor communities of color. most are not homogeneous.
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that many people will say it's not that you don't want cops in the neighborhood you just want cops who protect us and that we can trust we don't want no policing the debate one - - better policing and i think that argument not always but does resonate with people when i hear defined the police so cops get super defensive and if you say to a seventies cop we should defend the police they will say have you seen our station or the vehicle i drive for the equipment? will have the resources to do what we have now so than what? so that's the polite version.
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the defensive angry version. >> . >> . >> but if you say to the cops and said something very different what something different you don't thank you should be doing? what are the things when you take a mentally ill person to a psychiatric clinic and then be back out on the streets without medication or home to go to the very next day they say are there are a million things and its stunning we end up picking up the slack then it gets to a much healthier conversation where you say let's work together to police themselves what this communities prioritiesti are. and how f far are we from them
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now? how do wee recalibrate investment? and those common ground and with the critics of policing. >> and what people forget and what president trump talked about to be so kind and gentle and unfortunately that didn't help us but words matter. elected officials talk about the's issues and activist talk about these issues. and for example abolish i.c.e. that scares people because
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they can focusca on bad actors. and then to have a legitimate function. >> so one of the things it's frustrating but i have been telling folks for those unjustified uses of force especially deadly uses of force. and with 37 years of experience for what we asked for what we need is people to approach to problem-solving that there are times to have a heart of a warrior. because some of these deadly encounters over the years we
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have people that were cops afraid of their own shadow. and not austin texas ray came from but to make the police academy a warmer and gentler college environment and here is what i word caution. if we can't test your metal how you would react to physical the diversity or psychological electricity come i would hate not to be able to read somebody out toso go straight for the gun and then in broad daylight and my officer at the time encounters him and has his gun in his hand. and then to assess that kind of mindset and fear any training environment?
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of the real cop and how do we balance it? >> that's a hard issue. sue, and the washington state law enforcement academy she is the person here readm, the influential so one of the things that sue always says that was very powerful and important in the law enforcement academy to beef up training online de-escalation skills.al and how you talk to people not shout at them. because just as nobody ever changed their mind when you told them they were stupid or
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a jerk people are a lot less likely to do what you say when you do sound like you are a jerk. so they beef up the training on de-escalation and then to slow things down. and distance in space and cover and conceal so you don't create dangers yourself. and with those skills training and her argument is that the tragic police shootings that did not pose a threat they were unarmed or running away or whatever people pull out their weapon sometimes when they panic. if they don't have confidence they can handle a situation without a gun they're more likely to pull out the gun so
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her area of emphasis is you have got to be better at those skills so you do have the confidence to get into a situation and not immediately reach for the gun if somebody pushes you are punches you but and to get better at those soft skills how do you called them down to reduce the likelihood somebody gets aggressive and violent? >> having gone through this experiencehr and this adventure, what was your perception of policing from the outside looking in? and from the challenging environment how does that perception change and how much being reality? >> i don't know if my
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perception changed. it got much moree granular. on the one hand i grew up in a family of left weighing activist my mother said the police are the enemy forgot the same time i grew up in a blue-collar town where a lot of my friends had cops and their families. i did know them as just people. and terrible things and not that many terrible people that are done by ordinary people that have come to believe they have to do what they are doing. there are psychopaths but most people are not so going in i
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and immediately suspicious when i hear people say anything that seems to dehumanizing when please refer to the residence they of the communities they work in as animals is also dehumanizing when protesters call police pigs. i smell bacon. there are all kinds of things we cannot say on this program. and everywhere i iry have gone in my whole life he have human beings better ones and worse one so i don't think it change my perception but had much more sense but here is what i think is the real tragedy from what i said earlier a lot of
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what was change by policing cannot be changed by police it is theoe criminal justice system. the social economic divisions are the legacy of racism that cops cannot change that. so what that means so even if you are m a good decent police officer with the most idealistic reasons, you may still find yourself making arrests that are lawful but awful that when you look at the big picture and try to do the cost-benefit analysis, is this making the community better off? maybe it's making things worse. so even good decent cops can end up making the structural economic and racial disparities even worse. the rest of us have to fix that. >> it is a system in one of
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the most visible parts is that we are either on cell phones or cctv or body cameras but the actions will be captured in today's world and of that systemic racism if you just look at sentencing over the years in terms of crack of powder cocaine and then for which community do you think that people send to police officers could be a manifestation more of other aspects like prosecutors? so the defense bar who has a
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more rigorous defense? and to be placed at the most visible part off the system and should be sent somewhere else. >> and police departments many have a lot of work to do and with the dc police department which is a good police department it still not perfect and has a lot of work to do some are off the hook but that being said you are absolutely right and you know my colleague kristi lopez worked at the justice department over the most abusive police departments in the country one of the points that we call innovative
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policing and to be the legislators and the prosecutors and those that vote for those people and you have to be a part of that change. if you are on the city council they will enforce the laws that you make. will sentence that people. so it's always easier to have a target so to be the face of the state's coercive powers. it is easier to direct the anger at them. people don't see that behind
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the scenes folks that want to let cops off the hook there's a lot they could do differently that no question the rest of us need to take a long hard look in the mirror. >> i would agree with that. we have been arguing in my role and to be testified about policeou reform with the congress and the senate and the house i had the honor of testifying in one of the things i talked about of the federal government we talked about everything else. and body worn cameras but then you look at the federal government. where are their reports? when his last time a federal agency has to charge an officer with deadly force?
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with points of reference you cannot fully assess what is in front of you if you have nothing to compare it to. and there is achieve here in houston with community points of reference and you cannot truly assess something something to compare it to. and then that transparency with the rest of the justice system and what does it need to be with the prosecutors and defense attorneys and the best part of the lifework is the law. >>ld and with the lack of transparency as opposed to
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lack of political will so if you go through the criminal code we had a federal law and we had dc municipal code but if you go through that there are lots of offenses on the books that are so ridiculous and trivial they should not be criminal offenses at all that nobody says let's take a look at this and see if it makes sense. so that cost-benefit analysis where you say, okay. we could arrest 500 people for disorderly conduct and now we have the arrest record with the small amounts of present time we have a big fine now look at any complainants or victims or if anybody is better off or worse off as a
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result. just like stop and frisk and it turns out where transparency enables accountability. when you actually work at the numbers carefully that the police in new york city stopping a disproportionate number of a african-americans relative to their side of the population the african-americans were less likely to have weapons and the white people which ends at being unconstitutional but also means that cops overestimate the threats from african-americans and underestimate from the whites. i can't help but mention in this regard and then the best
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and the worst of policing. so the juxtaposition with the militarized police justice protest and the mob of trump supporters on the bad side beside a lot of officers behaving heroically that kind of implicit bias because you overestimate some threats and those racial justice protesters like they are about to storm the capital and they are not band-aid teargas them to have upset and angry and hurt people and then you underestimate the realhe threat. and then with a thin blue line
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then we think they cannot be out to do any harm but that was the real threat. >> iof was so proud of the police officers who put everything on the line to defend the seat of government of the people's house. i believe that as we continue calling for a robust inquiry and an inquisition we will find out some political leadership failed. let the experts do the assessment and hold them accountable. there will be a lot of mistakes made beyond the executive split and with that
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open source data and the intelligence and on the fifth of january. and with those results and then my than that - - and the chief to be a part of that not just what they decide too use. so i think the difference to be successful and just and that's we are acting this way i have a fear but in the dark of night through the call did
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you ever find yourself where that i'm letting my own implicit bias have an impact on my mindset or level of fear? it means you are human. did you have that moment and something even to expect. >> it is a hard question sometimes i talked to cops to get defensive about the implicit bias. i'm not recess. with that implicit bias we don't control them they come from the people around us.
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and then to be conscious and that you don't give in to them. it's not your fault but it is your responsibility so when i think about it of those specific instances and with the terrible neighborhood in crime rates and end up talking to somebody who was is really thoughtful and smart and educated and i would find myself feeling surprised and that is implicit bias. and that this is a poor neighborhood everybody amy will be fully educated that's not true. so i do think i caught myself
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making assumptions coming out of my own bias. and how erroneous. >> i think we have all been there. and that you are into and with yourself in your subconscious bias and fears. and there is something that we talked about. and have mandatory arrest laws of gone too far. so let me give you the example to get your thoughts. so in houston and then the
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officers in the field to accept charges before we arrest people. >> it sounds like a good idea i don't like that and then we argue so i won't get into it right now but as a police chief with my black and white i turn them over. and i do that because they are so non. >> i remember early on in my career when my domestic violence team. so to make a long story short
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and then to make sure the car comes back so then we declined the charges so that was a learning moment for me. we can get charges but i came to the opinion based on the size of the city i had a sneaking suspicion two things were happening. some were under reporting facts because you don't want to believe the victim because they are lazy or whatever but we have some views that want to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt clearly looking at probable cause. so where the ada wasn't taking charges and then they were assessing these charges.
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and then nobody gets killed. and then not to be prosecuted or convicted but but to get a family on the right path that's my mindset. and to expound on what your thoughts were on domestic violence calls. >> yes it is a problem. and if there is probable cause and the assault was committed you have to make an arrest you have to have the primary objector i'm sorry the primary aggressor if you cannot do that if youes think they are both aggressors. so behind that mandatory arrest rule you get a male cop
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or a boyfriend who was beating and abusing the girlfriend and the cop says work it out and walk away and would not take it seriously. that is a real problem. to say you cannot just do that and work it out but the problem over the years and to define the domestic relationship. and then to share the same household or even former housemates from several years ago are defined as having a domestic relationship. and if you don't have that classic spousal abuse situation. one arrest to talk about briefly is the adult sisters i got into aed scuffle because everybody was dressed talking about who left a close in the washing machine. neither had a criminal record.
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in the primary aggressor was a nurse and she mr. hospital shift and had to have somebody take care of her son. it is just stupid. that is a lot on the books but on the broader point and then arresting people doesn't solve every problem it does solve some problems and there are situations where just getting somebody out of the situation just removing them even if not prosecuted everybody cools off and then there are people who are violent criminals i'm fine having them arrested and those who are predators causing suffering but a lot of those callss for those that what
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cannot be solved by cops. may have some substance they are addicted today have a family dispute they cannot figure how to resolve the teenagers are not listening. and they don't feel they have anywhere to turn part of the reason cops are blamed they are in the invisible face of the state so who can help me? for the government is the cop and then you call the cops it is a tremendously difficult problem so the interesting set is do we train officers well enough and what it means to establish probable cause?
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and here is an area i wish we had more data. in dc 30 percent of arrest made by metropolitan police are no papered so they let the person go have the arrest on the record that's it we don't know. and that they didn't establish probable cause. and that is the most dumbest minute want to waste any more public money prosecuting this person for something so trivial and then to have a conversation between police prosecutors in the country and
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then those do have discretion. and if the prosecutors are thinking why are they bringing up these cases that are so trivial when cops should know that because that could affect what they do the next time. >> it's interesting you say that because like i said earlier we actually get approval to take charges but we have judges now, we have activist judges we know anyone to be prosecuted but no probable cause going through the roof. so if there is a da reject and
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there is no probable cause ruling then and then to look at them what the facts in the case and that's a really good point. and how is the way you talk about pleasing these issues to your students change at all and what you say and talk about with the front-line police officer quick. >> i cannot answer that question i cannot talk about policing until i started to do this my area of expertise is national security law. and at a certain point we thought doing the reserve officer stuff want to learn moree about criminal procedure
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so i started teaching while having this experience. but the one that i really emphasize to drive home when you think about this situation, ask yourself two questions it looks like a really awful thing happened as a result of policing, is this something cops could change by themselves or the rest of us have to change like the law? when you think about a decision a judge should have made ask what you know about the incentives officers face and if this will make a difference. to give an example, if police officers don't know or care if
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somebody, is convicted and that was obtained illegal in violation of the fourth amendment it's not my job to put people away forever just my job to arrest them then you don't care if it doesn't go anywhere. on the other hand my job performance is evaluated and then just to push them to recognize you have to have a more granular understanding of how policing works which it is very localized to figure out the relationship would be how the judges interpret the law and officers on the ground actually behave.
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>> i a agree. i like to say we have the most inefficient and ineffective policing model and the free world and with those policies and procedures with that consolidation of police agencies. i believe it gets more for the bank and with local control. so i'm not making this up but the two departments at the houston police department with 5300 police officer 6300 combined.
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and that consolidation of policing services? is something we should be talking about in this country. and with the municipality as a fund-raising mechanism. and driving to that area of the country every mile is a municipality so you know the jurisdiction. >> every mile there is a police car. >> and the beads signs we have seen this across the country. what that have an impact? >> i haven't thought of that in terms of consolidation but that's an interesting way toy approach the problem.
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and the things that we read about that there is a reason for that and with the people of goods? cities know how to get information toy journalist but knowing that we face public scrutiny is appropriate. away their liberty and life so for you to face a lot of scrutiny but that meant there has been a lot more pressure on city departments to be accountable and clean up their act when they are screwing up because they know they are under that scrutiny. i often worry much more we
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have no idea what's going on. they are too small. and then for the national media. not to paint everybody with the same brush and those all over the country as well but that lack scrutiny and transparency is scary. in the way to get that problem congress cannot control directly that word today can do is power of the purse with strong incentives and the police departments go where the money is that they say there are massive grants if
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you conform to the standards and agree with a training curriculum that looks like this a lot of departments say okay i will do that is not a big deal that's a powerful tool that we have not used enough and certainly under president trump that was not his administration's priority of all. >> we try to use it for forcing the immigration policy you have to be careful because administrations come and go so those executive orders they like the president or they don't they hate the executive orders so we have to be careful with that. let me ask you this. coming from a family
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progresses didn't like cops that much for that legal scholar and aspiring. and with a 24 hour news cycle. and now i'm getting hate mail like it just happened today in my jurisdiction. and with of the mental health crisis per year. and then to go sideways and end up killing somebody and the assessment and then mentioning time and distance
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and then to go find my presentations to the academy on day number one. time distance and concealment. and those tactical considerations. obviously the union wasn't happy but that's not why time here but the sad truth that one incident made people forget we are learning site for the rest of the country and that we had go wrong but tens of thousands go right so what you write about in the book, what percentage do you think? for what we control what
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percentage do you think it is bad policing or the bad apples? >> i saw very few bad apples and very few moments where i thought anybody was doing anything worse and more of a jerk then they had to be in minor ways. and then goes to stay away from. that my experience was and then to solve problems and that is something and as you say at the beginning from hollywood tv shows people get the sense that being a cop consist of with a high-speed chase to beating up a suspect
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another high-speed taken a chase and a homicide investigation. it is so much more mundane and positive because somebody is too noisy for something was stolen and you get that kind of stuff over and over or a burglar alarm or petty thievery. you do get the shootings in the homicides and the book of anyy given shift is dealing with people who are upset when neighbors having a loud party and it makes the difference you can go next door to say turn the music down and usually people say sorry about that. very rarely did i encounter
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hostility. even in the neighborhood we might expect more hostility they were quite live and polite because they know you're usually they are because somebody, calls you or wanted you to come. that doesn't excuse any bad behavior. >> so the fact you have decent people who are helping people but it is important and this is national security and remember the guy who paid on
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the car on and the protesters were upset all over the american world and the american soldier was peeing on the carondelet he did not represent the us forces he was a low ranking soldier his own stupid of noxious act. and it does with the strategic corporal and even the lowest ranking person if they do something particularly bad the whole world would know about it. teno t minutes later so we need to train to that we cannot say just do what you are told we need to have them understand this is the mission and the challenges but we need them to be critical thinkers and to have a nuanced understanding
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and nasa we have to expect. that people put asunder our microscope if you give him that much power the have to expect a levely. of scrutiny. and it is hard and creates stress for that feeling even just an honest mistake i forget to turn on the body camera people forget don't try to hide something they just plain forget. and if i make a mistake like thatf and then hide the abusive behavior i cannot handle the pressure. it is hard but because that's the world we live in. >> thank you for writing the book i hope you will read it
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and thank you for taking the challenge of learning about policingng. thank you for the conversation. >> thank you so much
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>> host: bill, how are you? >> how are you? >> good to be talking with you. let me start by saying i read your book and i thoroughly enjoyed it.

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