Predictive policing…

Sept 3, 2020

National Newswatch – Michelle McQuigge
Use of predictive policing tools in Canada highlight need for federal action, report says

We in Canada have already had warnings of police use of eavesdropping equipment on cell phones.  The article insists that there is a growing use of predictive technology by police that requires federal government intervention.  Predictive technology uses algorithmic tools to anticipate where crime will happen and who will commit the crime.  “Canada is still in the early stages of adoption relative to other jurisdictions, but we have already gone too far from the perspective of making sure our human rights and constitutional laws keep up,” said Cynthia Khoo, report co-author and lawyer specializing in technology and human rights. “… The good news is that it’s not too late. The government has the chance to act now to implement robust legal safeguards that protect our rights to equality, privacy, and liberty.”  Equally of concern is what happens to the current policing model, with all its imperfections, when the predictive tools are applied to problematic current policing.   Related article:  Toronto Star -Kate Allen   ‘Algorithmic policing’ in Canada needs more legal safeguards, Citizen Lab report says   Full report:  The Citizens Lab – Munk School, U of T  – Kate Robertson, Cynthia Khoo, and Yolanda Song  To Surveil and Predict A Human Rights Analysis of Algorithmic Policing in Canada

BC Tyee – Martin Lukacs and Tim Groves
Private Firms Pour Millions into Militarizing Police via Charities – Corporations and rich individuals quietly funnel money to Canada’s police forces, subverting, say critics, democratic control

The writers raise a credible question about whether the amount and availability of private funding from Canada’s business community also brings with it a threat to the democratic control of police agencies by tax payers.  Police forces in major cities across Canada are getting millions to finance armored vehicles, assault rifles and communication surveillance equipment.

Huffpost – Samantha Beattie
RCMP Watchdog Reveals Troubling Pattern Of Police Misconduct – The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission is now publicly releasing findings into questionable actions of RCMP officers.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) is beginning to release its findings around complaints against the RCMP in its dealings with mental health calls and Indigenous people.  “Of the 23 reviews posted so far, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) determined officers did not provide people in their custody with proper medical care, delayed allowing people access to legal counsel, botched sexual assault investigations and unnecessarily punched and kneed people under arrest.”  The goal says the Commission chair Michelaine Lahaie in releasing the reviews is transparency.    Web site for the reviews at CRCC:   Related article: APTN News – Angel Moore   Private Facebook groups loaded with racist comments by RCMP members still thriving – Two years after Mounties swore they would deal with racist Facebook groups, pages still exist   Related article: Edmonton Journal – Jonny Wakefield   ‘Restorative justice’ planned for EPS canine unit officers who posted racist images  Related article: APTN – Angel Moore  Indigenous ex-Mounties speak out about systemic racism in the RCMP

BBC News (UK)
International Criminal Court officials sanctioned by US

In what many in the legal profession are calling extraordinary, the US state Department has announced sanctions on several senior officials of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.  Allegedly in response to efforts by the Court to investigate war crimes by the US in Afghanistan, the US, along with Russia, China, and India, are not signatories to the U.N. treaty establishing the Court in 2002.  The sanctions will prevent travel to the US and will block the assets of the officials identified.  “Addressing reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Pompeo said Ms Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, were to be sanctioned under this order.”  The response of the ICC:  “An attack on the ICC also represents an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the Court represents the last hope for justice.”     Related article: The Guardian (UK) – Julian Borger  US imposes sanctions on top international criminal court officials

University of Southern California Press – Nikki Jones
Why We Need Less Crime Fighting and More Community Building

Jones is a scholar and author (The Chosen Ones: Black Men and the Politics of Redemption) who decries the reliance on a racist law and order approach to the current national unrest, calling instead for broader community support and response.  She says: “Even when led by the most progressive of police chiefs, policing is a racial project rooted in dominance and control – not in the inherent value of the lives of young Black men like Jay and my student…The return to law-and-order once again places Black youth in the sightlines of federal, state, and local law enforcement – it is our job to get in the way.”   Jones offers a connection to the kind of neighbourhood activities needed – a non-police public safety focus – in the blog from Advance Peace:

Pro Publica (US) – Alec MacGillis   (Co-published with the Atlantic)
What Can Mayors Do When the Police Stop Doing Their Jobs? – In cities across the country, leaders face a phenomenon encountered in Baltimore and Chicago: officers slowing their work in the wake of high-profile episodes of police violence.

In pretty well all the efforts to extract accountability from police for misbehaviour there is a push back from officers themselves who engage in slow-downs and withdrawal of policing.  The ‘underpolicing’ response has effectively frequently vetoed reform.  MacGillis looks at the spike in violence when police services are reduced, and at the effect of police strikes and the usefulness of consent-decrees as a tool for reform.   Related article: Washington Post – Christopher Ingraham    Covid-19 has killed more police officers this year than all other causes combined, data shows – By one estimate, coronavirus deaths among law enforcement are likely to surpass those of 9/11

The Atlantic (US) – Senator Chris Murphy (Connecticut)
Gun Laws Are the Key to Addressing America’s Suicide Crisis – When someone feels an impulse to harm himself, reduced access to lethal weapons can make all the difference in the world.

While much of the tension and despair assaults our senses from the streets and the cities, this politician wants us to realize that by far the worst violence is self-administered: suicide, self-cutting, addiction.  The Senator faults the availability of deadly tools – guns – for most of the suicide.  “The more troubling trend is that American suicides have increased by 30 percent since 2000—a jump not matched by other nations.”  The issue of suicide is largely hidden from public scrutiny.

Time (US) – Lauren-Brooke Eisen
The Violence against People Behind Bars That We Don’t See

The heart of the problem that Eisen identifies lies in the fact that once convicted a prisoner’s life and treatment is no longer visible to the public, and in many cases, not even to the family.  Eisen uses the recent federal investigation of the Alabama state prison system to illustrate the widespread but invisible violence perpetrated by correctional officers.  And then some studies from the Brennan Center to illustrate the problematic connection to mass incarceration.