Racism Detected In Ferguson

New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo says that the Justice Department’s investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri police has found extensive racial problems: Police officers in Ferguson, Mo., have routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city’s black residents, the Justice Department has concluded in a scathing report that accuses the officers of using excessive force […]

It’s Probably More of a Dingy Gray…

When I read Spencer Ackerman’s story in the Guardian about a Chicago Police “black site” right here in the city — where CPD supposedly keeps people in secret to interrogate them without access to a lawyer — I was skeptical. Scott Greenfield is too: How is it possible that this off-the-books facility existed for so […]

Should It Be a Crime to Hate Police?

One of the implicit assumptions I make here is that the criminal justice system is not exempt from the general principle that social institutions enforce social norms. In a society hostile to minorities, giving authorities another law to enforce is giving them another way to punish minorities. Even a law intended to help minorities can […]

Of Protesters and Cop Killers

On Saturday in New York City, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley reportedly shot and killed police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu while they were sitting in their patrol car. This tragic shooting has quickly become politically charged because it happened amid nationwide protests against police violence in the wake of several controversial shootings shootings of unarmed […]

Ferguson a Week Later

After a pretty good Thursday night, things got tense on Friday. Cops were guarding some stores, but they were attacked by a few of the protesters and several officers were injured. The police then retreated to a perimeter, which resulted in a situation eerily reminiscent of the 1992 L.A. riots, when the police withdrew from […]

Ferguson Turns On a Dime

I tried, I really did. When I first heard about the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. A lot of police shootings are perfectly legitimate, stopping bad people from doing bad things. Beyond that, there are cases where the victim didn’t […]


The news out of Ferguson, Missouri has had me riveted to Twitter. St. Louis Alderman Antonio French has been tweeting and posting Vine videos from Ferguson for days, and Wesley Lowery from the Washington Post has been tweeting regularly and he’s got an article up. If you haven’t been following the story, Dara Lind at […]

Another Cop Shoots Another Black Kid

I hate this kind of story. Reportedly an as yet unnamed police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri has shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black kid named Michael Brown. Area residents gathered in the street, there was shouting, police assembled to try to keep order, there was a bit of a […]

What Democracy’s All About?

NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has been taking a lot of crap, deservedly so, for his comments after Eric Garner died while being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes on the street. In a news conference, with mayor Bill de Blasio standing at his side, Bratton came out full-authoritarian: According to Mayor de Blasio and Police […]

I’m Sure That Goes Both Ways

Here’s how I imagine my traffic stop going: Officer: License and proof of insurance. Me: Here you go. Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over? Me: Uh, no I don’t, officer. Officer: You were doing 75 in a school zone. Me: I’m sorry to hear you experienced that. I place the highest priority […]

An Unfortunate Message For Police

Radley Balko reports with some astonishment that a grand jury in Burleson County, Texas has refused to indict a man who shot and killed a police officer who was conducting a SWAT-style raid on his home: Last December 19th, nine of the 10 members of the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department staged a raid on the […]

Profitable Punishment – Tempe Style

Matt Brown is a little peeved at Tempe, Arizona’s crackdown on college drinking: The gist of the article is that people visiting Tempe last weekend were going to see a massive police presence as officers from nine agencies teamed up for the “Safe and Sober” campaign, something that as near as I can tell is […]

On Criticizing Cops Over Questionable Behavior (update)

I recently read a story about two cops who arrested a 74-year-old woman they claimed had attacked them — although video of the incident doesn’t match with their account. If I were writing about this incident, about all I could say is that it looks like the cops overreacted and then exaggerated to cover the […]

Chicago To Pay For Not Watching the Watchers

Five and a half years ago, when the beating of 24-year old bartender Karolina Obrycka by Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate first made the news, I argued that the beating itself wasn’t the real news story: …It is rumored that some cops offered Obrycka a bribe if she would back off, and then threatened to […]

A Death That Rings a Bell

So here’s a disturbing story about a death in police custody: The FBI said Thursday it will join the police investigation into the death of Chavis Carter, the 21-year-old man shot in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police car in Jonesboro, Ark. The investigation comes amid lingering questions over who pulled […]