Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Growing Police State: Quis Custodiet Edition

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is running against Republican Scott Walker in Wisconsin's Gubernatorial Recall Election here in about two weeks.  I'm not in WI, but from an outsider's prospective, he's been running on a platform of "Well, yes, he's had results, but he's a Republican, so he's icky."  It may be quite an embarrassment for him then to find this article in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel online magazine:

It turns out that more than 500 cases of violent felonies have been "miscategorized" as non-violent misdemeanors.  Those are the verified ones.  The Journal Sentinel also reports a further 800 that "follow the same pattern but couldn't be verified with available public records."  They follow that up almost immediately with this bombshell: "The Journal Sentinel found enough misreported cases in 2011 alone that violent crime would have increased 1.1% instead of falling 2.3% from the reported 2010 figures, which had their own errors."

Oops.  Not good if you're the mayor of Milwaukee.  So the article reports that the FBI has been called in to conduct an investigation.  And they never ask the question, "Who watches the watchmen?"

If we are going to give so much power an authority to police, shouldn't we be able to be sure they're telling us the truth about things?  Much time in the article is given over to how much the elected officials trust the Police, and how they're sure this was neither purposeful nor a coordinated effort.  My question: why are they so trusting, and how are they so sure?  1300 cases certainly seems like more than some typo or wrong check-box kind of mistake, doesn't it?

Indeed, almost unnoticed, they do answer the question- though I suspect they didn't realize they were: there is a council that is supposed to provide such oversight: The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.  It happens to be appointed by the mayor, and it just gave the Chief of Police a new four-year contract.

No, I see no reason for concern.  How about you?

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