Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

07 November, 2013

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?



There is a petition up at Change.org encouraging people to contact their Wisconsin state representatives and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to show support for Assembly Bill 409 which would establish an independent review board to investigate incidents civilian deaths at the hands of the police.

KEY POINTS of AB 409:

1.) Requires a three-member team of investigators (two from agencies that do not employ an officer involved in the death) to prepare a report and provide it to the district attorney of the county in which the death occurred.

2.) Then, a Review Board, which the bill creates and attaches to the Department of Justice, must review the report to ensure it addresses all aspects of the death and may request further information from the investigative team.

3.) The five-member Review Board (appointed by the Attorney General) would consist of:

•A retired or reserve judge.
•A former sheriff, chief of police, chief deputy sheriff or asst. chief of police.
•An assistant attorney general.
•A professor or researcher affiliated with a Wisconsin university or college, who has expertise in the field of criminal law or criminal justice.
•A former district attorney or assistant DA, who served in that capacity for at least 10 years.

4.) Any officer involved in a death would be required to submit a blood sample subject to testing with either the officer's permission or a search warrant.


I think this is a good idea but I would imagine that police unions are going to fight this tooth and nail. But I have some reservations. That review board is stacked with former officials of the legal/law enforcement professions and I'd like to see more people from outside of those areas. Aside from the blue code of silence, when I read articles such as this one about a Chicago police officer who drank "multiple" beers before reporting to duty, ends up standing over a bleeding suspect and putting three rounds in his back killing him, and then gets off basically scot-free, I just have very little faith that attorneys general, former AGs, and current/former district attorneys are particularly impartial.

There is something at the site that is particularly striking:

Cops can be heroes, but since 1890 every Wisconsin officer who took a life was cleared of any wrongdoing. Every single one.

I can't find a citation so I don't know that it's true but, if so, it's outrageous. This shows that the people who are ostensibly "on the same side" as the police should not be charged with overseeing the men and women in blue.

As an aside, I recognize Paul Heenan on the right in the photos above. Does anyone know who the other two gentlemen are?

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|| Palmer, 9:49 AM

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