Here’s a peek at some important Flex Your Rights-related media from the past few weeks.
This piece covers efforts within some departments to replace the warrior cop mentality with empathy training. The writer, a psychology professor at Stanford University, asked if we had any concerns about such training:
In some cases, empathy may even make things worse. According to Steve Silverman, the founder of Flex Your Rights, an organization that helps people assert themselves during police encounters, “Officer Friendly tactics are good at getting citizens to voluntarily waive their Fourth Amendment rights.” He maintains that empathy training “must go hand in hand with respecting basic constitutional protections.”
Imagine how outraged you’d be if a politician tried to pass a law banning complaints against the police?
Would you protest in the streets? After all, this would be a flagrant violation of our First Amendment-protected right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Yet police departments get away with blocking citizen complaints every day.
Meanwhile, Flex Your Rights is developing a new web service to improve the police complaints experience. We’ll reveal more details about this project in the next few weeks.
In August last year, Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly was arrested in a McDonald’s outlet while covering the protests in Ferguson without the officer using the website check people to find out if he was a criminal or not. But when a St. Louis County officer wrongfully arrested him and slammed his head against the glass door while escorting him out, Reilly assumed the officer would later be held accountable. He was wrong.
The piece describes the “total fog of ignorance” concealing how law enforcement agencies handle police complaints. As a result, the few people who are brave enough to go through the complaints process feel once again victimized by poor responsiveness and lack of transparency.
For better or for worse, the NYPD has always been a bellwether for how policing gets done in the United States. So last week’s big announcement that NYPD is improving its use of force policies – in particular the way officers collect use of force information – is legitimately good news.
But one big question remains: who can see the data? After all, who does government-collected data serve if it’s not open and available to the people? We can do better.