Tag Archives: law enforcement

Police Accountability: No one model and no single system

Crime Scene Tape

There was a meeting in Reno, NV between members of the community, representatives of Black Lives Matter, and law enforcement officers. That’s good. [RGJ]  It’s a start. Or, to put it another way it’s another step on a path forward which has the tortuous feel of a mountain trail with numerous cut backs.  We might be able to more fully address the issues related to policing our communities if we’d take some additional topics into consideration.

One of the most obvious topics is the use of force, in perhaps too many cases deadly force, and how police officers may be held accountable in controversial situations.  The importance of Tennessee v. Garner can’t be overestimated, and further, administrative and legal cases do seem to have an effect on policing policies and practices. [Hudson] However, public perception is also related to faith in the system, and the system is fragmented.

In Nevada, for example, how a citizen can report instances of police misconduct varies with each jurisdiction, and sometimes within a single metropolitan area.  Reporting a favorable comment about policing is very easy in Reno.  There’s a website form for that.  Reporting an instance of possible police misconduct isn’t as simple.  Reno, Washoe County, and Carson City each have their own process and requirements for filing an allegation of misconduct. [ACLU]  There are four ways to file a complaint in Reno, three ways in Washoe County, and only one way (in person) in Carson City.   The report information goes to the Internal Affairs Office in Reno, passes to the Sheriff’s office in Carson City, and through the Sheriff’s office in Washoe County.

The Accountability process is also a matter of local jurisdiction. There is a local Review Board in Las Vegas, which while it does have some investigative powers is confined to making recommendations only.  Even this improvement met with a critique from the Justice Department in a 2012 investigation:

“Metro’s Use of Force Review Board — currently a mix of residents and department personnel — needs revamping because of procedures the COPS Office found “outdated and insufficient.” To remedy the situation, the report recommends Metro create a stand-alone manual for the board, which would outline its purpose, operating procedures and clarify roles of the board’s members.” [LVSun] [DoJ] [DoJ Report pdf]

This wasn’t all the Department of Justice had to say on the matter in October 2012.   The report found that the Coroner’s inquest process related to the review of the use of deadly force was ineffective at the time. The District Attorney’s office needed more training and expertise related to investigating deadly force incidents, and while the Clark County DA had begun to review officer involved lethal shootings, and to issue decision letters, there were no letters for serious, non-fatal use of force incidents. [DoJ Report pdf]  The current accountability public perceptions may rest on how much progress has been made since the 2012 recommendations, and on the application of the review processes in the context of Nevada statutes on police use of force.

The public is beginning to perceive that investigations of police officers are quite different from those a private citizen can expect.  For example, in Las Vegas the officer will receive a 48 hour notice before an interview, and even if that notice requirement is waived it must be approved by the association.  Additionally, the officer will be provided with ALL evidence during an interrogation to facilitate correcting “inconsistencies.”  There are also contractual provisions allowing an officer terminated as a result of an investigation 30 days to appeal and to enter into binding arbitration. Written reprimands will be removed from the officer’s personnel file after 18 months; minor suspensions after 3 years, and major suspensions after 5 years.  There is to be no retention of investigation records in which the officer is exonerated, or the allegations are held to be unfounded, or un-sustained.   The contract in Las Vegas is about “average” in its provisions for police protection, with the major exception that the city is not exclusively liable for civil actions related to the incident.

There are some jurisdictions in which an officer cannot be interrogated for more than 6 hours in a given session, and may not be threatened with vile language or threats of demotion, transfer, or termination of employment. (Fort Worth)  Louisville, KY allows no threats, coercion, or promises made during an interrogation, and St. Petersburg, FL allows only one interrogation session.  [CTP interactive]

“Public Employee and Public Ideology” issues are also entangled in these topics.  There are some conservative voices only too pleased to blame teachers’ unions, for example, for allowing the retention of “bad apples.” However, these voices are strangely silent when the subject of police unions comes to the fore.  It is in no one’s best interest when any public employee is subjected to discriminatory, capricious, or arbitrary treatment regarding his or her demotion, dismissal, or refusal of re-employment.  However, when other public employees are alleged to have been responsible for the death or physical injury of another the notice and the interrogation limitations are not available to them, nor are the requirements that they have access to all the evidence collected prior to the interrogation.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

That there is no single model and no single unifying concepts for police accountability means that each jurisdiction is left to its own devices to cope with community and police relations.  Some, like the Dallas PD, have done a better job than others, such as Baton Rouge and Ferguson, MO.

Perhaps we’d be well served to think outside the dotted lines at some tangential issues which exacerbate the situations in which both law enforcement and community members find themselves.  Let’s start with what is likely to be one of the most obvious.

Racism.  Could we at least recognize that it exists? Could we at least acknowledge that it informs some actions that are not necessarily overt? Remember the African American college student who was arrested in NYC for buying a belt the clerk and officers said he couldn’t possibly afford, and concluded that he’d thereby committed fraud? [HuffPo]  Or, the African American actor who was arrested for buying his mother a $1,350 watch, as a present for her college graduation? [DNAinfo]  These are simply more high profile illustrations of the problem as related by one of the participants in the Reno meeting:

“Don Dike-Anukam said he was glad he attended Sunday’s event and hopes others will consider what life is like when “the shoe is on the other foot.”

“It’s hard to explain to people who never had to literally prepare for a police stop or have been followed in a supermarket when you’ve done nothing wrong or know what it’s like to have that feeling of suspicion and done nothing wrong,” Dike-Anukam said. “It makes you a little angry and annoyed inside and sad at the same time.” [RGJ]

Combining racism and fear is a truly toxic mix. What of the police officer  knowing that he is dealing with a white person in a traffic stop who may be armed, and feels less insecure? Or, more insecure if the person in Black? Is the white citizen more innocent until proven guilty, or the Black citizen guilty until proven innocent?

Police as collection agents. One of the things that precipitated the mess in Ferguson, MO was the use of the police department as a collection agency in an effort to bolster the town budget.  In 2010 the Ferguson police department generated $1.4 million for the county treasury, almost 25% of the city’s $13 million budget. [RS]  To put the issue more bluntly:

“…when budgetary whims replace peacekeeping as the central motivation of law enforcement, who is more likely to write up more tickets, the good cop or the crummy one? When the mission of the entire department shifts from “protect and serve” to “punish and profit,” then just what constitutes good police?” [MJ]

Most of the incidents that initiated the current turmoil began as traffic stops and other very minor items in the grand scheme of things.  We’d be remiss if we didn’t ask how many of these stops were associated with increasing revenues for local governments? With fulfilling quotas of some kind? With “keeping the numbers up?”  None of this having much to do with good police work.

Police Training. Now, if we combine racism and revenue generation, then why are we surprised when minor incidents become major news?  One element which seems to need further discussion is the addition of de-escalation policies and training for police officers.

In March 2016, the Los Angeles Police Commission voted to implement a use of force policy emphasizing de-escalation and the use of minimal force in encounters with the general public. [LAcbs]

“One of the recommendations suggests the LAPD’s use-of-force policy be revised “to emphasize that deadly force shall only be exercised when reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or appear impracticable.

The revision in policy will also establish the expectation that officers redeploy to a position of tactical advantage when faced with a threat, whenever such redeployment can be reasonably accomplished in a manner consistent with officer and public safety.” [LAcbs]

Unfortunately, the police union doesn’t seem to be on board:

“Clearly this is not a collaborative process by the Police Commission,” he said. “We are very concerned that the recommendations as written may jeopardize officer and community safety. We’re afraid that this policy does not take into account the split-second, life-and-death decisions police officers must make in the field.”

An internal LAPD report was released earlier this month that found LAPD officers used force nearly 2,000 times last year, including 21 cases in which people were fatally shot. More than one-third of the 38 people who were shot by police were mentally ill. [LAcbs]

However, making those decisions is a function of training and experience, and if the training includes how to de-escalate a volatile situation then both the safety of the officer and the safety of the citizen could be improved.  It hardly seems fair to criticize an officer when the predominance of his or her training is consumed in fire arms training, and then complain when the person shoots first and faces the questions later.

Guns. Eventually it all comes back to guns.   Now, there’s research reported on the subject:

“The results were shocking: line-of-duty homicide rates among police officers were more than three times higher in states with high gun ownership compared with the low gun ownership states. Between 1996 and 2010, in other words, there were 0.31 officer fatalities for every 10,000 employed officers in low gun ownership states. But there were 0.95 fatalities per 10,000 officers in the high gun ownership states.” [WaPo]

Law enforcement officers “working in states with higher levels of gun ownership faced a greater likelihood of being shot and killed on the job compared with their peers in states with lower gun ownership,” the study concludes. The relationship was strong enough that every 10 percent increase in gun ownership correlated with 10 more officer deaths over the study period. [WaPo]

If we’re truly interested in the safety of our law enforcement personnel then we have to address what’s killing them. Guns.

This partial list of “Things To Think About” is a heaping portion of problems on our collective plate.  None of these discussion will be easy, or simple, or without rancor.  However, I don’t think that we can afford to ignore any of the elements.   Those who refuse to consider the possibility that there are problems in our contemporary system will not be convinced there is a necessity to address these topics; those who do should take heart that communities around the country, like Reno, are at least beginning the discussion.

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Filed under civil liberties, Gun Issues, Las Vegas, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics, public safety, violence

What’s Wrong With The Kids? Frankly, not much

1950 Teen Boys

Nothing quite heats up the gray hackles so much as the whinnying of elders who shout “Pull Up Your Pants!” at young protesters – or at young people in general.  This command is all too often followed by, “Get A Job!” Excuse me, old timer, but was it all that long ago that the insults hurled were, “Get A Haircut?” “How’d you get into those pants?” And, then necessarily — “Get A Job!”

How engaging to hear individuals who may have worn their obligatory T-shirt under a school jacket, above the tight “dungarees,” topped off with a duck-tail hair cut, address the saggy pants kids with derision!  Ladies, remember those four inch hems on the skirts? The  “circle skirt?” Or, worse still the infamous Poodle Skirt?  Remember the man’s dress shirt worn with tight fitting capri pants or pedal pushers?  The young ladies’ attire may include a short skirt now – but note please, she can actually get her body into a school desk without cramming two (or more?) layers of stiff petticoats into the school furniture and avoid looking like an unmade four poster bed beneath  a canopy of pin-curls.

Oh, yeah… then there’s the music.  Remember when:

“Rock and roll sent shockwaves across America. A generation of young teenagers collectively rebelled against the music their parents loved. In general, the older generation loathed rock and roll. Appalled by the new styles of dance the movement evoked, churches proclaimed it Satan’s music.

Because rock and roll originated among the lower classes and a segregated ethnic group, many middle-class whites thought it was tasteless. Rock and roll records were banned from many radio stations and hundreds of schools.” [USH]

Spare me.  If the righteous elderly find the modern lyrics incomprehensible then perhaps we might dwell for a moment on that wonderful bit of lyricism from a bygone era: “Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, choo
Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, choo
Boop boop dittum dattum wattum, choo
And they swam and they swam all over the dam

Again, spare me, before I launch into “Mairzy Doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey, a kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?” [ILP]

Now that we’ve had our trip down Memory Lane, what’s wrong with young people taking an interest in the major issues of our day?  The kids DO care about their peers – and the way their peers of color are treated by local police departments. Witness the Die-Ins  all across the country [HuffPo] including the University of Nevada at Reno. And, they are right to do so.

The statistics on the excessive use of force should be alarming for everyone:

“Of the 6,613 law enforcement officers involved in reported allegations of misconduct that met NPMSRP criteria for tracking purposes, 1,575 were involved in excessive force reports, which were the most prominent type of report at 23.8% of all reports. This was followed by sexual misconduct complaints at 9.3% of officers reported then theft/fraud/robbery allegations involving 7.2% of all officers reported.” [Cato] (emphasis added)

And who was on the blunt end of the use of force?

“A widely publicized report in October 2014 by ProPublica, a leading investigative and data journalism outlet, concluded that young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than their white counterparts: “The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.”  [JR org]

So, go ahead kids… have your say, and don’t let the Duck Tail Hair Cut, Poodle Skirt Crowd get you down.

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Filed under Politics, racism, youth

Five Questions About The Police and The Community

It shouldn’t take a tragedy to bring attention to local police policies on the use of lethal force, but it does.  The premise of this post is not to argue that community members bear the burden of preventing police misconduct, but that members of the community do have an obligation as citizens to exercise informed oversight of police policies and procedures.

Telling community leaders and other citizens to take yet more time to research and review police practices is relatively easy.  And, as mentioned in a previous post, getting familiar with the mission statement publicized by most police departments is as good a place to start as any.  Once beyond reading the mission statement, and evaluating it in terms of how it might inform policies regarding the use of lethal force and other controversial items, there are some other questions citizens might raise with members of county commissions, city councils, and boards.

#1. How many of the officers in leadership positions received their initial training prior to 1985?  Yes, that’s 29 years ago, but it’s still relevant. Here’s why.  Before the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee v. Garner (1985) a majority of states had a “any felony” policy.  Police were authorized in most jurisdictions to use any force necessary, lethal included, to effect an arrest for any felonious behavior.  Justice White’s opinion place restrictions on this policy stating:

“Where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others, it is not constitutionally unreasonable to prevent escape by using deadly force. Thus, if the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm, deadly force may be used if necessary to prevent escape,…”[FindLaw]

In other words, after 1985 there must be a reasonable expectation that the suspect poses a serious threat of physical harm to the officers or others, or has already caused serious harm to others.

Training programs are drafted and administered by senior law enforcement officers, and it’s not unusual to have senior officers conduct the training and perform the administrative reviews of incidents involving the use of force.  If the law enforcement agency has an in-service training program emphasizing how seriously the department takes such incidents, and how carefully it will conduct reviews of the use of  force, then problems associated with the holdover effect of pre-1985 attitudes can be mitigated.

It’s probably safe to assert that in any institution composed of human beings there will be those who cling to the attitudes of the Good Old Days When…. However, in terms of the unlimited use of lethal force and other controversial practices, those good old days are over and have been for the last 29 years.  In the mean time care should have been taken to erase some of the attitudes associated with those not-so-good days. Has the in-service training program addressed the upgrading of current  information and re-training for senior officers?  There’s been much palaver about Police Culture, but if questions aren’t raised about the contributors to an unproductive culture then we’d ought not be surprised when the answers don’t please us. This leads to the second question.

#2. How much emphasis does the law enforcement agency place on training in community relations?  The Nevada Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training has a 16 week training curriculum for category I cadets. Performance Skills consume about 291 hours. Patrol Operations and Investigations  take up 165 hours. Law and Legal Procedures average 83.5 hours, Administration and Examinations average 72.5 hours, and Functions of a Peace Officer average 67 hours.   Nevada’s curriculum description (pdf) requires POST trained officers  pass a written examination (70%) on the following topics:

“(1) Define “traditional/incident-driven policing,” “community-oriented policing (COP),” “problem-oriented policing (POP), “CompStat” and “Intelligence Led Policing (ILP) (2)  Identify the four steps of the S.A.R.A. problem-solving model (3) Identify the differences between the traditional aspects of policing and community-oriented policing  (4) List the six most important groups with which to partner.”

What we know is that a Nevada POST graduate will be able to score at least 70% on a written examination regarding these models of police work.   What we don’t know is how effective the law enforcement agency which hires the young recruit will be at helping the new officer reach out to those six (at least) most important groups. Do we know the proportionality of in-service training programs? Do we know, for example, the relative amount of time expended on physical or fire arms training when compared to in-service education on public and community relations?  And thus, our third question.

#3.  Does the local police department or sheriff’s office have a formalized way to interact with elements of the community?  The Las Vegas MPD has a Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee which meets monthly.  The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office has a Community Relations Section.  In an ideal world, with adequate funding and resources, a law enforcement agency would have an advisory committee enhanced by a structured way to get recommendations from the committee to all levels of the law enforcement agency in a timely fashion.  A reasonable question to ask of city or county officials is what systems are in place to regularly gather information and opinions from the public at large, and minority populations in particular, which will help officers engage with the community more positively? And, then follow up the initial inquiry with a second one — How is this system evaluated, and how often?  The next question concerns whether the system works.

#4.  How does the local law enforcement agency process, evaluate, and resolve issues between personnel and members of the public?  Larger law enforcement agencies have formalized procedures for processing complaints, and IADs for investigating the validity of the allegations.  Even the best organizations will receive complaints, and this is all the more reason for the agency to have a written complaint response policy.  The Washoe County Sheriff’s office has an Office of Public Integrity for this purpose.  The LVMPD has a Citizen Review Board.  Before lamenting the lack of citizen complaint resolution, check to see if your local law enforcement agency has a formalized complaint resolution process, who’s in charge of it, and how often is is evaluated?

Drilling down to an obvious source of complaints, such as abuse of authority, misconduct, or downright brutality, can we evaluate community relations by the numbers?

#5. What measures have been taken by the local law enforcement agency to maximize communication with the community?  However important it may be — and it is — to have a police department which looks like the community at large, it’s equally important to have a department which knows how to communicate with that public.  Does the agency recruiting and retention process encourage members of minority groups to seek employment with the department?  How is this evaluated? And, how often? The how is important, but so is the when.

Another line of inquiry in this regard concerns when officers have an opportunity to interact with the public.  Are officers isolated in vehicles during their shifts, and accessible to the public only in presentation, ride along, or safety presentations?  How and in what circumstances does the department encourage interactions?  Traveling down this thread a step further: When is the leadership of the department available to the public?  In organized public forums? In press conferences? In periodic site inspections? All of the above?

Public officials should be not only able but willing to answer these, and other, questions for members of the public.  Being a law enforcement officer is one of the toughest jobs in the country, and one of the most dangerous.  A complementary effort on the part of both the agencies and the public should help those POST graduates perform to the best of their abilities, and provide regularly evaluated systems, structures, and practices which are conducive to good community relations.


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Filed under Politics

From The Needy To The Greedy: NV GOP Reps. Support Ryan Plan

On March 29, 2012 the House of Representatives voted 228 to 191 on H. Con. Res. 112 “Establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2013 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2014 through 2022.”  That would be the Ryan Budget, and both Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) and Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) voted with the Republican majority.  [roll call 151]

To the Greedy. Since the numbers don’t add up in the Ryan/Romney budget plan, the entire scheme depends upon the support of those who believe in Tax Cuts for the Rich, and austerity for the remaining 99%.   For those who would like an illustration of precisely what Amodei, Heck, Romney, and Ryan are proposing there’s a chart for that:

So, if you are a median income earner in Nevada ($53,082) under the Ryan/Amodei/Heck/Romney proposal you could reasonably expect a 1.9% after tax income gain.  This might be a good time to note that the annual inflation rate for 2011 was 3.2%.  [USinflat] However, if you are earning more than a cool million, then your after tax income gain should be about 12.5% under the GOP plan.

The Tax Policy Center (Urban Institute & Brookings Institution) ran the numbers and concluded that the Republican plan takes care of the Greedy very well, thank you very much.

The Christian Science Monitor concluded:

“TPC looked only at the tax reductions in Ryan’s plan, which also included offsetting–but unidentified–cuts in tax credits, exclusions, and deductions. TPC found that in 2015, relative to today’s tax system, those making $1 million or more would enjoy an average tax cut of $265,000 and see their after-tax income increase by 12.5 percent. By contrast, half of those making between $20,000 and $30,000 would get no tax cut at all. On average, people in that income group would get a tax reduction of $129. Ryan would raise their after-tax income by 0.5 percent.”

But, but, but… sputters the GOP talking point, “46% of the people don’t pay any income tax.”  Curious, the Republicans are publicizing the fact that a significant portion of American income earners aren’t making enough money every year to be considered liable for federal income taxation.   What the 99% do pay are payroll taxes — which they pay in higher proportions than the 1%’ers, and sales taxes — which are the most regressive form of taxation imaginable.  In short the GOP budget, which Representatives Heck and Amodei were pleased to support attends solely to the tax concerns of the economic elite.

From the Needy.  So, how do the Republicans intend to “reduce the deficit” by practicing austerity on the remaining 99% of the U.S. population?  Here’s part of the problem:

“Because Romney promises to protect current Social Security and Medicare recipients from cuts, he cannot get much savings from those programs by 2016. Combined, they are projected to make up about 44 percent of the budget that year. Interest costs, which cannot be touched, would make up an additional 9 percent of the budget, while Romney promises to add almost $100 billion to the Pentagon budget that year, based on his pledge that military spending reach 4 percent of GDP.”  [full article Salon Taylor]

So, what remains on the chopping block?  Ans: Programs designed and implemented to assist low and moderate income Americans, those same median income earners who aren’t going to see after tax income gains that are likely to exceed the rate of inflation.

Medicaid:  As of 2009 there were a total of 62,458,000 Medicaid recipients in this country. 5,433,000 of the recipients were in general hospitals, another 115,000 were receiving care in mental hospitals.  101,000 were mentally disabled.  1,644,000 were in nursing homes.  [SSA stats]    The simplistic “Gee Whiz” formula for reducing expenditures relies on assuming a reduction in the number of recipients and/or reducing the funding available for the program.

This is where the ideology is at variance with the reality:

“The rate of increase in Medicaid expenditures also declined over the last decade. A major contributor to Medicaid expenditure growth has been increases in enrollment caused by the two economic recessions experienced in the past decade and continued growth, almost 3 percent per year, in the disabled population. Medicaid spending growth on a per enrollee basis in the past decade was below 3 percent per year. Part of this relatively low growth rate is due to the changing composition of Medicaid enrollees— the number of lower cost adults and children grew faster than the aged and disabled. But states have also been very aggressive in cost containment efforts because they face declining revenues and have many competing priorities.”  [UrbanInst. pdf]

After the Little Wizards of Wall Street (aka Financialists) lost approximately $10.2 trillion in our national wealth in the wake of their Housing Bubble and CDO Bonanza circa 2008, [BusInsider] we’d expect to see a rising number of individuals eligible for Medicaid.   And, while the states were struggling to cope with the consequent declining revenues they were also trying to assist a growing number of “low cost” adults and children.   Perhaps a little sparkly anti-deficit dust sprinkled over the spreadsheets would work a bit of magic? Like Block Grants?

What if Medicaid funding came in the form of block grants to states?  Then the states could be “creative and flexible.”  Yes, and they could also look forward to being creative and flexible with continually declining revenues.

Ask local officials who deal with HUD block grants how “creative and flexible” they are being as they look at 12% cuts, and a Congress which shaved about $390 million from their revenues?  [Governing] A local official in Connecticut summed up the situation:

“CDBGs, Rodriguez said, have been under constant threat of federal budget cuts. He said at one point former President George W. Bush ’68 called for an end to the entire program until he faced overwhelming resistance from cities.

“The Block Grants is one of those grants that we always worry about because the federal government is always cutting it,” Rodriguez said. “It may actually go away, depending on what happens to Congress [in the 2012 elections].” [YaleDN]

The simplest way to think of the GOP proposal for health care services for the poorest among us is to note that of all the formats for federal funding the block grant is the easiest  to cut.

From what other sources might the Romney and his Republican cohorts make budget cuts in order to finance the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 1% and other tax breaks?

Former Governor Romney has “promised” 5% cuts in non-defense budget categories, so what would that include?  “At issue are these programs, just to name a few: health research; NASA; transportation; homeland security; education; food inspection; housing and heating subsidies for the poor; food aid for pregnant women; the FBI; grants to local governments; national parks; and veterans’ health care.” [Salon]

Somehow the “Support the Troops” Republicans managed to draft a budget proposal for the consideration of the House of Representatives without using the word: Veteran.   So, when we have about 45,000 members of our military services coping with wounds and injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have a Republican Party suggesting a cut of $11 billion from veterans care programs.  [VV] As Andrew Taylor opines in his Salon article, if the Romney campaign and other Republicans eschew cuts to VA programs, then the remaining federal functions would face deeper cuts.

Public Health and Safety.   Food – the amount of  regulated goods have increased by 200% in the last decade, but as of today we only inspect about 2% of food imports.  We import about 80% of our seafood from China and Thailand, countries with less stringent food safety laws that our own.   And now the GOP proposes to cut from 5% to 20% of the food inspection budget?  [News21] As one commenter put it, “You can’t fight bioterrorism with a tank.”  [The Hill]

Police and law enforcement – Senator Harkin was justifiably disappointed to note that the Republican version of a budget cut $118 million from federal funds to support local and state law enforcement. [Harkin] In FY 2011 the BJA processed 56 state and 1,348 law enforcement funding applications, and in FY 2012 made $295.58 million available to local and state officials for improvements in policing, and for other programs like the sex-offender registry and the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. [BJA pdf]    However, in the interest of the 1% the GOP is willing to cut from 5% to 20% from the BJA programs which, “…. provides  states, tribes, and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution and court, prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, planning, evaluation, and technology improvement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.” [BJA pdf]

Perhaps the most cynical, and assuredly the most economically irrational, of the GOP cuts would be to programs like food stamps (SNAP) and WIC.   Chad Stone explains:

“The $8 billion in SNAP cuts over the next year would do more damage to economic growth and job creation than any stimulus that the $46 billion in tax cuts could generate, according to standard “multiplier” or “bang-for-the-buck” estimates like those from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Moody’s Analytics.

CBO ranks policies like SNAP and unemployment insurance (UI) as among the most effective ways to boost economic growth and job creation in a weak economy — and business tax cuts like those in the House bill as among the least effective.  That’s because SNAP and UI benefits go to low-income and struggling Americans who will spend virtually every additional dollar they get to pay bills and buy necessities, while the main problem businesses face is that too few customers are spending too little money — and that won’t be fixed by giving the businesses themselves a tax cut. “

Especially not effective if the tax cuts are designed to benefit those “small” businesses like hedge funds and lobby shops that are already doing well and yielding income to their owners and partners sufficient to put them in the +$1 million annual salary category.  Exactly how the House GOP explains a $46 billion reduction in the SNAP program as a “job creator” requires more imagination and intellectual gymnastics than a Cirque Du Soliel production.

But, never fear — protecting the tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires is, by Republican lights, ever so much more important that preserving Medicare as we know it, or preserving the health care services for the elderly, the children, or the disabled in poverty, or sustaining programs for Veterans, or enhancing public safety by supporting our local sheriffs, or making sure our food imports are inspected, or insuring our bridges are safe…

The Republican focus, as adopted by Rep. Ryan, and supported by Representatives Heck, Amodei, and by presidential candidate Romney is singularly narrow, and illustrates with astounding clarity how eager they are to sacrifice the needy for the noteworthy benefit of the greedy.

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Filed under 2012 election, Amodei, Berkley, Federal budget, Food Safety, Health Care, Heck, income tax, Medicaid, Nevada Congressional Representatives, Republicans, Romney, Veterans