Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Institutional accountability

This is Joseph

EDIT: the context of this case is that Sarah Everard was murdered by a police officer, Wayne Couzens, who arrested her for an extremely minor charge. People in the UK were concerned about how they could trust arrests by police and the police communication was poor. 

I really liked this post by David Allen Green. He pointed out the absurdity of a post by the Metropolitan Police about the murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens:
Try to seek some independent verification of what they say, if they have a radio ask to hear the voice of the operator, even ask to speak through the radio to the operator to say who you are and for them to verify you are with a genuine officer, acting legitimately.

All officers will, of course, know about this case and will be expecting in an interaction like that - rare as it may be - that members of the public may be understandably concerned and more distrusting than they previously would have been, and should and will expect to be asked more questions.

If you feel you are in real and imminent danger and you do not believe the officer is who they say they are seek assistance by shouting out to a passer-by or if you are in the position to do so call 999.

 The gaslighting is intense. Why? Because Wayne Couzens was an actual police officer at the time of the murder. Even worse, the advice actually changed without any edit note from the even more absurd:

If after all of that you feel in real and imminent danger and you do not believe the officer is who they say they are, for whatever reason, then I would say you must seek assistance – shouting out to a passer-by, running into a house, knocking on a door, waving a bus down or if you are in the position to do so calling 999.

Why did it change? Because it was a real police officer and some of the advice the police were giving was the sort of thing that could lead to a resisting arrest charge. They were so without ideas that they had to pretend that the person in question was a "fake officer". The best that this advice could do is get one criminally charged for resisting arrest after being hit by a Taser and not actually kidnapped by the rogue officer (who will be commended for dealing with a disruptive individual and be free to strike again). Remember, the officer was real and had actual arrest powers. The issue was that the arrest was under false pretenses, and how do you challenge that in real time without getting an actual charge for misbehavior? 

The release is so tone deaf that it actually brags about deploying more officers, instead of explaining how they will make the current force more accountable, When the officers are the predators that is hardly any sort of fix. Sarah was arrested under the pretense of breaching English Covid-19 regulations before she was horrifically assaulted. We have no mechanism for disputing the motives of a police officer at the time. The real problem was an officer using police powers in a rogue fashion and fixing that required examining the powers of arbitrary arrest and detention that we give police officers.  

Why is institutional accountability so hard? 

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