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Mitch Perry Report for 12.9.15 – Welcome to the new world of policing

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

There is a story in Wednesday morning’s New York Times quoting a variety of police chiefs across the country bemoaning how the prevalence of video cameras are changing the way they do their jobs, and makes it harder for them – even when those cameras come from their own agencies.

Since the fall of 2014 when incidents exploded in Ferguson and Staten Island, and Walter Scott was killed in South Carolina, a series of videotapes have shown police officers killing people who in many cases were unarmed. It’s been a huge story and led to a national consensus that body cameras on officers would be  beneficial for both the public and officers.

The Times story talks about how important community policing is.

“Since crime has been so low for so long, there are very high expectations in terms of what people expect of police chiefs,” said Inimai M. Chettiar, the director of the justice program at the Brennan Center for Justice, tells the paper. “Not only are they expected to keep down crime, but now they are expected to treat people with courtesy. That is new.”

Now let’s look at the ongoing saga in Chicago, where police superintendent Garry F. McCarthy was fired last week by Mayor Rahm Emanuel when the local community erupted in outraged after video footage showed an officer shooting black teen Laquan McDonald 16 times.

That tape showed a very different picture of what led that particular officer in Chicago – Jason Van Dyke – to shoot McDonald. The dash cam footage showed McDonald moving away from the officers with his hands down by his sides, not with his hand raised or lunging at Van Dyke. To quote USA Today, “Hundreds of pages of police documents released late Friday evening from the investigation of the police officer shooting death of Laquan McDonald show that cops at the scene offered a starkly different picture of what led to fellow officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times than what a dashcam video released last week depicts.”

That’s an understatement.

It’s enormously disappointing, to say the least, that so many of Van Dyke’s officers said something different to their superiors about that night. And it’s hardly comforting to think this is the first time something like this has happened, where there wasn’t video, and internal affairs or a citizens review board reviewed a similar case and said essentially, “nothing here to see.”

Yes, it is a different world of policing for law enforcement in late 2015: more accountability and transparency. And let’s hope, not so many tragic incidents.

In other news …

David Jolly got lots of publicity, as the one Republican not only denouncing Donald Trump for his comments about banning Muslims from entering the U.S., but saying that he no longer should be running for president after that remark.

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Patrick Murphy agrees with Jolly, but the two men running for U.S. Senate from opposing parties disagree about banning those on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms.

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There was a lot of debate and discussion regarding the regulation of ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft at the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation meeting Tuesday, but is there any prospect of actually having a policy that regulates those companies and the taxi cab companies?

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And the Tampa Bay political establishment came out in the morning for the groundbreaking ceremony for USF’s Medical school and Healthy Health Institute at the site where Jeff Vinik is planning his $2 billion master plan for the Channelside area of downtown Tampa.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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