Government

The Senate Police Reform Bill Does Nothing

Police in riot gear

The Fourth Amendment

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In order to renew faith in law enforcement, Congress has taken on police reform legislation. Well, the House of Representatives did. The only interesting point of the Senate’s reform bill was the presentation. The Senators appeared in masks. The bill itself does nothing.

Chokeholds

Chokeholds will not be illegal. They will not be recommended. The bill aims to politely suggest there are other ways to restrain a person. The use of chokeholds is at the discretion of the officer. What does that mean? In an actual confrontation, who decides if the officer used excessive force by employing a chokehold? 

Police Immunity

Under the Senate plan, the police will retain qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is supposed to hold a public official accountable and also protect them from liability in the performance of their duties. The police cannot violate a statute. Qualified immunity is a wide, and deep, grey area. It is very hard to interpret. [1]

No Knock Warrants

The police can bust into your house without a warrant if a judge gives permission. Do the same police have immunity if they execute the warrant on the wrong address? [2]

Funding

More funds will be given to law enforcement. Will the money go to training or pay raises? Will police forces be given more surplus military equipment? Will any funds be devote to alternative programs? 

This Does Not Look Like Reform

This is not reform. This is a pat on the head. It will not ease the tension between the community, especially the black community, and the police. This bill sends a signal to the community that they really don’t care about citizens. It also sends a signal to law enforcement that nothing much will change. 

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/qualified_immunity

[2] https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/no-knock_warrant

When To Wear A Mask

The leader of your party just gassed peaceful protestors in order to wave a Bible around in a photo op. Not a good time to answer questions, but a great time to mask-up and mumble as you quickly walk by a reporter.

Masks are perfectly acceptable when Kasie Hunt has you cornered as you walk through the halls of Congress, especially when she asks what President Trump refers to as ‘nasty questions.’

Tom Cotton Chimes In

There are people in the Republican Party that give you the willies. Tom Cotton excels at that. It’s not just the bonkers things he says; his monotone delivery and rigid appearance enforces the feeling that serious issue lurk deeply within the man.

Lets all agree that sending airborne troops into our cities is a bad, bad idea.

The Butcher’s Bill

We speak of pyrrhic victories when we discuss the COVID pandemic, of battles too costly to call victories, and of losses that should have never been. The war we are fighting shocks our sensibilities.

91,000 are dead, and the battle is not over. It slows down and we take a breath, but then it grows more deadly somewhere else. There are symptoms and there are the symptomless. The person next to you may look fine.

In defiance of rules, a Priest held mass in the traditional way. He died, and many of the faithful are ill. Why is that? How can some spread the disease like a fire, and others do not?

Was it Lord Nelson who coined the phrase butcher’s bill? We ask for the butcher’s bill every day. Every day it astounds us. We cannot even comprehend 100,000 dead, but we are going to see it.

It seems a rather callous statement, as if to reduce the casualties to a cost of doing the business of war. Is it any more callous when it is the cost of just doing business? Or the cost of being re-elected?

This pandemic vexes us. It appears without warning, It kills without mercy. Or not. Some people are afraid; others are convinced this is a hoax, because it feels like one. Until you get it. Weeks of illness followed by, what? Some never even notice they have it. Some end up with lung and heart damage.

No wonder some people shake off the fear and go about their business. It is as if we are dealing with a dozen different plagues at once. That makes it so easy for a person to believe they are not going to catch anything. They take off their masks and move on.

The virus does not. It grows and waits for a chance to grow again. In the next church, or bar, or barber shop. On the next factory floor. Anywhere it can.