Monday, October 30, 2006

X-Rays: A Past that Might Have Been, a Future that Could Be

Let me lay my normative cards on the table. Police are necessary for security in modern society, but they have a historical tendency to divide themselves from society, view many victims as morally deserving of their fate, and treat the assertion of any right of equal dignity as a security threat. In the late 20th century police experts divided between those who looked to judicially imposed external norms, and those who looked to an internal process of craft elaboration. In fact, both were probably necessary for either to have had a chance of succeeding. But the “war on crime”, and the massive transformation of governance it produced, has led to a security paradox. The police have enough power to resist accountability in most respects, but not enough knowledge to effectively deal with violence, community disorder, and now terrorism.

In the hope of going beyond critique and diagnosis to identifying the resources from which a remedy might be fashioned we must have recourse to history. The success of a particular movement or project often has the effect of burying all memory of possible options that existed in the problematizations of the recent past (Foucault has made this into a key methodological imperative). Without bowdlerizing the past, we need to remain open to imagining possibilities for reconstructing our modern public institutions that have been lost.

In 1970, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department hired two African American college graduates from the city’s segregated northwest side. These officers were quickly promoted to detectives and along with a few selected white detectives, were selected by Chief Robert Johnson, Fort Lauderdale Police to form the core of a special task force with the goals of reducing the increasingly violent drug trade in the city and avoiding a major racial conflagration of the sort that had swept major cities in the North. Knicked-named the “X-Rays” because of their reputation for “sharp vision,” these detectives specialized in deep knowledge of their local communities. What is especially striking to me about the tactics of the X-Rays is that they form alternatives to two of the major practices of investigation influenced by the war on drugs and which have contributed to miscarriages of justice, i.e., the use of informants and interrogation. The war on drugs has promoted the recruitment of professional informants who often have powerful monetary or legal incentives to lie. In contrast, the X-Rays cultivated informants more along the model of anthropological informants, local figures in a position to observe what is going on in a community that have a relationship of trust and friendship with the detectives. The war on drugs has also made available a large pool of suspects who form a ready supply of suspects in other cases and encouraged practices of deceptive interrogation aimed pressuring the most dysfunctional of these suspects to cooperate in convicting themselves. In contrast, the X-Rays sought to obtain confessions by winning the trust of suspects and confronting them with the results of their prior investigations.

<>For me the X-Ray’s represent a model of the craft tradition in a positive confrontation with problems of equality and inclusion posed by the civil rights movements in the 1960s. In future postings I’ll tell more of the story of the X-Rays and especially Detective Douglas Evans of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department (ret.). Evans had a remarkable career, ableit one shortened by anger at a law enforcement apparatus that overall placed minimal priority on the security of people from Evan's own neighborhood of northwest Fort Lauderdale. Dougs most famous case involved Eddie Lee Mosely. One of the most aggressive serial killers of recent history, Moseley raped and murdered dozens of people in northwest Fort Lauderdale from the early 1970s through the mid-1980s. Two other men were sent to prison, one to death row, for Moseley's crimes. These miscarriages of justice exemplify the high risk investigatory strategies that contemporary police have come to rely on. Doug Evans solved the crimes using his deep local knowledge of his community and his willingness to interview dozens of witnesses, but Mosely was released through the indifference of state officials and his later crimes were pinned on men more attractive to prosecute. Doug's role in the case is profiled in this excerpt from the Frontline (PBS) documentary, Requiem for Frank Lee Smith (2002)

Doug Evans and the X-Ray's were sadly not the modal police officers, let alone Southern police officers of the 1970s, but they offer a precedent for a reflexive craft policing approach that might serve as a model of a different kind of post-war on drugs policing strategy one aimed at preventing violence in specific communities from all kinds of sources (including both terrorism and reactive hate crimes) by vigorous local investigation coupled with self conscious efforts to guard against racial stereo atyping and its analogs.


The Craft: A Lost Possibility in American Policing

One strand in police sociology has long emphasized the reform potential of a craft conception of policing. As used by these scholars, the phrase “craft of policing”, is most often used in contrast the practical and experienced based knowledge of the police to the rule based imperatives of either law or scientific models of policing (see, e.g., Bayley and Bittner 1984, [requires access to JSTOR]). While he never used the craft of policing language, no figure in modern police expertise was a more forceful advocate of this view that Fred Inbau,(1909-1998). Professor of law at Northwestern University, co-author of the leading textbook on police interrogation, director of the leading forensic crime laboratory of the period and the editor and chief of the Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science (as it was pertinently called in his period), Inbau became the chief advocate of the view that greater police training and skill rather than judicial limitations, were the best way to eliminate abuse and miscarriages of justice.

The only real, practically attainable protection we can set up for ourselves against police interrogation abuses (just as with respect to arrest and detention abuses) is to see to it that our police are selected and promoted on a merit basis, that they are properly trained, adequately compensated, and that they are permitted to remain substantially free from politically inspired interference. ... And once again I suggest that the real interest that should be exhibited by the legislatures and the courts is with reference to the protection of the innocent from the hazards of tactics and techniques that are apt to produce confessions of guilt or other false information. (Inbau 1961, 26)
In retrospect we can see how Inbau’s interest in the truth value of confessions got lost in the increasingly bitter debate on the Warren Court’s criminal procedure jurisprudence. In that context, talk about truth seemed a way of rationalizing the admission of evidence collected in violation of the constitution (although Inbau did not deny the Court’s power to reject such evidence even if probative). Both the Court and its critics increasingly ignored the problem of wrongful conviction. By the time the more conservative Burger Court began to roll back doctrine’s viewed as hampering police, they did so with no apparent consideration as to whether the underlying police practices were in fact “means which risk the conviction of the innocent.”

The craft conception had a natural fit with the dominance of labor and occupational ideas of governance in the mid-20th century. Professionalizing police through raising hiring standards and training viewed policing as body of knowledge and practice best rationalized through the evolution of internal substantively rational reflection rather than external judicially imposed rules. But whatever potential might have existed in the 1960s to reduce abuse and miscarriages of justice through improved training and fostering of the craft of policing was washed out by the War on Crime and the transformation of policing it led to. From the skilled worker, the police officer was reconfigured in two directions. One was as a symbolic stand in for the citizen crime victim, the official vigilante (think Die Hard), the target of armed assailants facilitated by defense laywers and liberal judges. The other was as a highly militarized and technologically enhanced cyborg ---RoboCop-- who could confront armed and violent criminals in a battle field like setting using special weaps and tactics (SWAT). In neither the vigilante or SWAT mode does the contemporary police officer draw on the kind of craft conception that Inbau championed with its emphasis on the protection of the innocent from wrongful conviction. Ironically, the proponents of a craft approach today are scholars and advocates like Richard Leo, Gary Wells, and Barry Scheck who are precisely the ones calling for taping of all police interrogations. Were Fred Inbau alive today, he'd be on their side.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Police Interrogation Tactics: Evidence from the Terric Jeffrey Case in Miami

The October 16th order suppressing Terric Jeffrey's confession to killing the infant son of his girl friend and room mate provided a glimpse into the craft status of police interrogation practices, at least in Miami. Police experts like Northwestern University Law Professor Fred Inbau, (1909-1998) long maintained that police interrogation and resulting confessions posed little danger as long as police were careful to avoid techniques likely to induce the innocent to confess. The misfeasance in Miami suggests that this craft tradition is in bad shape there. Judge Pineiro was clearly concerned about the possibility that Jeffrey had been induced to confess by the deceptive promise that he would be released in combination with familiar tactics of police interrogation, including those sanctioned by Inbau. To his dismay, police testimony at the suppression motion was not even consistent as the tactics that had secured the confession.

One tactic that comes right out of Inbau's famed case book on police interrogation methods, involves minimizing the moral or legal wrongness of the suspect's conduct. Here defense lawyer Liesbeth Boots of the Miami Public Defenders office asks Miami Police Department Detective Yves Fortune.

Q. But do you have, at the Police Department a technique on interrogation?
A. Yes, it does.
Q. And, you know about the tactics of the offering a suspect a face saving alternative?
A. Yes.
Q. You know saying to the suspect you did this, but you were just defending yourself.
Q. Or you did this because you didn't mean to, it was an accident, Right?
A. Yes.
Q. You know those techniques. Right?
A. Yes.
Q. And that's what was used in this case. Right?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. The accident scenario techniques. Right?
A. Well, that's --- that is a tactic that was used, yes
Q. It wasn't Terric who first said this was an accident. Right?
A. Can you repeat?
Q. It wasn't Terric who first said this was an accident, the first person to say it was an accident was Officer Valdez, Right?
A. I can't really answer as to who first said it. I really don't know who first said it.
Another Detective Olga Rome, testified that it was she who obtained Terric's confession, apparently through the force of her voice.

The Court: Any redirect or the recross, okay. Ma'am, I just have a couple of questions. Ms. Boots delineated a number of techniques to convince the defendant it's in his best interest to confess, like to present him with false evidence, good cop bad cop, isolation and you have moral justification an out. And at the end of those, you said I know of them but I never practiced, not my practice. What is your practice when conducting interrogations?
The Witness: I just ask them to tell me the truth.
The Court: And.
The Witness: It works for me. Maybe it's the way I say it. Maybe it's my voice. I don't know.
Judge Piniero was also distrubed by the quality of Jeffrey's statement in the formal confession which was video taped by the police, the only 1/2 hour of an 11 or 12 hour interrogation so video taped.

The statement itself evinces various instances where the defendant seems to have been coached as to what he should say. Please, take note of the last few words of Detective Rome's questions which are often parroted back verbatim in the Defendant's responses. he often starts his answers with her very words. The coaching is so evident that Detective Rome is forced to profess that she doesn't want to put words in the defendant's responses.
Inbau and others believed that a craft of policing, grounded in the determination to convict the guilty and protect the innocent, would ultimately prove a far better shield to civil liberty than judicial prophylactic rules like the famous warnings required by Miranda v. Arizona (1966). Unfortunately, that craft tradition appears to have been replaced by what the Supreme Court has long described as "the competive process of ferreting out crime."


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Murder Investigation Miami Style

A recent Miami case provides rare public airing of a murder investigation gone terribly wrong as the skilled work of a public defender and a judge with too much integrity to ignore the facts, prevented a very likely miscarriage of justice. In the State of Florida v. Terric Jeffrey, (11th judicial circuit, No. 03 --- 16977A). Judge Roberto M. Pineiro, a former prosecutor, granted defendant's motion to suppress statement.

After 9 years as a prosecutor, some of which were spent in the Major Crimes Division prosecuting murder cases, and 12 years as a judge in the criminal division, this court is well aware of the mantra: first investigate then interrogate. You first gather all your facts. This allows you to narrow your scope to a single suspect. It provides you with the evidence to refute his putative alibi thereby sealing off all possible bolt holes. This time tested procedure assures you’ve got the right suspect and can confront him with indisputable facts during an interrogation; thereby increasing your chances of cornering him into a confession.(2)

Judge Pineiro’s mantra may be a considerable idealization, but the facts of Terric Jeffrey’s case turned out to be a grotesque inversion. The victim, Leon Leonard III, was a fifteen month old child who died of blows received at one of two different locations and left alone with three separate men, only one of whom was the defendant, Terric Jeffrey, the boyfriend of the child’s mother.

Since the physical evidence suggests only two locations and only three possible perpetrators, surely evidence must have been located to exclude two of the suspects and one of the locations before focusing on Terric Jeffrey having committed the murder. (3)
Instead Miami Police detectives searched one house, the one shared by the mother, Monique Johnson and the defendant, while ignoring the other house where the victim was present and where another possible suspect, Leon Leonard Jr. the victim’s father, resided. Both Johnson and Jeffrey, the latter who is reported to be “mentally handicapped” by his attorney, were subject to hours of questioning, while Leonard, the son of a Miami police officer, was never questioned. Having extracted a confession from Jeffrey, a semi-retarded man who apparently believed he would be released after confessing, Miami detectives immediately ceased any continuing investigations.

Johnson and Jeffrey picked up the child at the Leonard house after an evening at the movies. Johnson reported that the baby was “whinny and fussy” and indeed it was her decision to obtain some of the pain reliever Motrin from a neighbor that left the child in Jeffrey’s hands. Yet the police never investigated whether the child was mistreated at the Leonard’s house instead focusing exclusively on the mother and her boy friend. Prosecutors argued that Johnson’s report of the baby being whinny and fussy was a lie, but as Judge Pineiro points out, that eliminates any reason for Johnson to have left the child alone with Jeffrey. “No whining, no fussing --- no need to get Motrin --- no need to leave the baby alone with the defendant” (9).

Instead of the investigation, detectives subjected the mentally challenged suspect to nine hours of interrogation with no breaks or meals. The confession finally made tracked the police officer’s own formulations so closely that one of the detectives actually says on the tape recording of the confession, “Do you recall all of this. I don’t want to put words in your mouth. I recall you telling me this.” (16)

After suppressing Jeffrey’s statement, Judge Pineiro went on to an unusual statement from the bench.

Prior to this hearing I was not convinced that it might be good practice to video tape the entirety of a defendant’s interrogation. That it would not be practical. Given the evidence adduced at these hearings I have come to believe that, regardless of the practicality, it might be imperative. (17)

We cannot say that this case is typical. Although the judge refused to infer an association, the opinion noted the fact that Leon Leonard, Jr. was the son of a Miami Police officer. But whether the case represents an unusual effort to protect a fellow officer’s family it reflects features of police investigation that have become an endemic feature of a time in which policing has been shaped by the war on drugs. In this time, a vast body of low level offenders is viewed as a collective risk to American society and the mass imprisonment of many has been a primary solution.


Monday, October 23, 2006

The Symbolic Standing of the Police after the War on Crime

To try to understand why law enforcement is so reluctant to engage in serious efforts to regulate our investigatory techniques which pose serious risks to conviction of the innocent, we must appreciate the radical shift in public confidence that the police have come to enjoy since the middle of the 20th century. From the 1930s through the 1960s, academic experts agreed that the public perceived police as corrupt, inefficient, and capable of brutality. Popular culture, pulp fiction and movies that regularly portrayed the police in precisely the same terms. Consider The Maltese Falcon (1941), where Humphrey Bogart and everyone else knows that whole game is to give the police some body they can blame for the murder of Sam Spade’s partner and it does not matter whether they did or it not. As the War on Crime unfolded since the late 1960s, police were recast as the chief protagonists of citizens as potential crime victims (as David Garland would suggest, the representative citizen of our time),--- and as symbolic stand-ins for citizen-victims themselves--- the perception of the police has gone from cynical to reverent. This shift is captured in public opinion surveys. In 1977 (almost a decade into the War on Crime) 37 percent of a national sample rated the honesty and ethical standards of the police “Very High” or at least “High,” by 2005, 61 percent shared that rating. Asked how much confidence they had in the police in 2005, a 64 percent of a national sample indicated “A Great Deal or Quite A Lot”. In contrast, only 53 percent said that of Churches and Organized Religion, 22 percent of Congress, 44 percent of the Presidency, and 41 percent of the Supreme Court. Criminal Justice overall, by the way, is lower even than Congress. The only institution that evokes more confidence than the police is even more steeped in symbolic identity with the body politic, i.e., the military, in whom 74 percent of respondents held such high confidence.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Texas Death Penalty and the Culture of Life

Fifteen hours before the State of Texas was going to kill him with a lethal injection, inmate Michael Dwayne Johnson, 29, killed himself by slitting his juggular vein and his arm with a sharpened piece of metal the size of a popcicle stick. The suicide was skillfully timed to evade Texas "death watch" inspections every 15 minutes. I'm no expert on this but slitting your own jugular vein has to be a bit harder than slitting your wrists and the cuts must have been deep and broad to make sure he wouldn't be "rescued." At the same time, he had the discipline to write "I didn't do it" in his own blood before becoming unconscious. The message and the rare successful suicide on death row, marked a rebuke to a state whose capital punishment system is an exception within American overall exceptionalism. With some 30 executions in a typical year (more than a third of the annual national total in recent ones) Texas belongs in a special category of retentionist nations for whom the death penalty is not just a permitted punishment but a compulsive act of political power. Johnson's case was routine for Texas and disproves the oft stated claim that the American death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst. No Ted Bundy, Johnson was convicted of murdering a 27 year old man at his gas station, apparently because Johnson and a buddy could not pay for their gas. His buddy, however, solved the "prisoners dilemma" first and received 8 years in prison after testifying against Johnson. Johnson, insisted it was his friend who did the shooting. To make matters grimmer. Johnson was only 18 at the time of the crime. Were he 17 at that time, the 8th Amendment would now have prevented his execution (due to the Roper v. Simmons decision of the Supreme Court a couple of years ago).

The maccabre act reminds us how essentially totemic, magical (and ok, yes, primitive) the death penalty is. In this one unique practice, the state (acting through its symbolic stand-ins prosecutors and executioners) demands that the crime be repeated, this time on the body of the condemned. No where else in our entire legal system would such an act of purely symoblic repetition be demanded. (We don't knock down the house of a contractor who builds a house that falls down, nor do we rape rapists or beat assaulters). While many in Texas (including temporarily transplanted Texan George W. Bush who carried out more than 100 executions while governor of Texas) speak of believing in a culture of life, their death penalty belongs to a cult of death, requiring all citizens to partake of what amounts to a public sacrifice. That such a cult might survive in modern society and be attractive to those traumatized by violence or simply by late modern culture, might be unsurprising, but the central role of the modern state in that cult is less obvious and more alarming.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Waste (Mis)Management

Your jurisrpude has somewhat provocatively referred to contemporary American prisons as based on a "waste management" model of incarcerating those state policies define as toxic. Academic ranting, perhaps, but consider this section from the Governor's recent emergency proclamation on California Prisons.

WHEREAS, the current severe overcrowding in these 29 prisons has also overwhelmed the electrical systems and/or wastewater/sewer systems, because those systems are now often required to operate at or above the maximum intended capacity, resulting in an increased, substantial risk to the health and safety of CDCR staff, inmates, and the public, because:

Overloading the prison electrical systems has resulted in power failures and blackouts within the prisons, creating increased security threats. It has also damaged fuses and transformers.
Overloading the prison sewage and wastewater systems has resulted in the discharge of waste beyond treatment capacity, resulting in thousands of gallons of sewage spills and environmental contamination.

And when the prisons “overdischarge” waste, bacteria can contaminate the drinking water supply, putting the public’s health at an increased, substantial risk.
Those prisoners identified by the proclamation as the primary subjects for transfer might also be thought of as "waste" i.e., those that the state is most anxious to expell, including non-citizen prisoners, especially those subject to deportation following their prison sentences.

Read the Governor's proclamation.

CA Gov Declares "State of Emergency" for California Prisons

Today California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared the massive California prison system under a state of emergency.
“Our prisons are now beyond maximum capacity, and we must act said Governor Schwarzenegger. ... I’ve ordered the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to begin contracting with facilities in other states to transfer inmates to available beds outside of California. These actions are necessary to protect the safety and well being of the officers, inmates and the public.” (Governor's Press Release)
The main legal effect is to allow the Department to enter into immediate contracts with states that have excess prison capacity without going through the usual state contracting procedures, and, if necessary, involuntarily transfer inmates to other states under provisions of interstate correctional compacts. (Read the Governor's proclamation). The Governor blamed the California legislature for failing to pass a number of the proposals he had placed before a special session on prison problems this past summer, proposals to build new prisons and new community custody facilities for low risk women prisoners with children. Query: Why would prison facilities projects that would have taken months or years to lease or build have any impact on a situation that requires aggressive and immediate action today.

Legislative democrats criticized Governor Schwarzenegger's actions, calling instead for parole reforms that would keep more violators of minor technical parole violations in the community rather than back in California prisons. (for Jenifer Warren's reporting, LA Times).

Since the 1970s the California prison system has been on a continuous pattern of growth which has only slowed and not stopped in recent years. If past experience with the dynamics of this largey self perpetuating prison population are a guide, it is unlikely that either the Governor's proposals, even if eventually acted on, or those of his sometime allies among legislative Democrats will . More than 22 prisons have been built in the state since 1980 (contrast that with 1 incomplete UC Campus) but overcrowding to the point of unconstitutionality has been a constant problem. Cheaper prison cells (in other states or in the community) will only make it easier to not face the structural causes of overcrowding.

Parole reform has been the call of pragmatists looking for quieter ways to reduce the prison crisis since the mid-1980s when your Jurisprude was studying California's Parole Division for his dissertation (published as Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass, 1890-1990). It has never worked and it will never work. While it is based on the correct observation that technical parole violators form a substantial part of the prison crowding problem, they only appear to be the easiest to portion to eliminate. Having defined the business of California prisons as warehousing a dangerous population, the assurance that parole violations were only minor and technical will never provide a robust political cover for substantial changes. Unlike recent California governors of both parties, Arnold Schwarzenegger has publically questioned the wisdom of warehousing California inmates with no effort a rehabilitation and re-integration. However unless he is willing to go further he will not be able to break from the legacy they have bequeathed the state.

The only prospects for real change lie in two directions (really the same but by two routes). Either a newly re-elected Governor Schwarzenegger in November could go before the public and announce that California's penal laws were crafted by a generation of "girlie men" who filled our prisons with dysfunctional but non-violent residues of our failed schools and de-industrialized cities, and that the only honest way to save the taxpayers from an endlessly expanding commitment is to dramatically reduce the number of convicted criminals sent to California prison to begin with. The state is full of strong criminal justice policy experts like Frank Zimring and Joan Petersilia, who could help draw the right lines between those who must be in prison (the violent) and those whose accountability should be achieved through other means (I favor stiff fines proportional to estimated illegal wealth earned, enforced by requirements of work, even at day labor if thats all that is available). The other route lies through an eventual judicial take over of the California prison system and an inevitable conflict between raising taxes or gutting both K-12 and Higher Education which might force the Governor to take that bold step.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Law Enforcement and its Special Interests

Few political offices have been more central to the nexus of sensitivities and powers that I call "Governing through Crime" (see, Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (OUP NY 2007)) than that of state governor. We can take practically each political action of a sitting governor on crime related issues as a rather precise indicator of the demands of the key constituencies empowered by the war on crime, namely law enforcement, and the conceptual category of "crime victim" (a category invoked by lots of potential actors). Consider the recent decision by Governor Arnold Schwarzengger to veto a series of bills implementing the recommendations of a commission set up by the California Senate in 2004 to investigate the causes of wrongful conviction in California (read the SF Chronicle story). The Governor was lobbied by state law enforcement groups who opposed the measures that would have required police to video tape confessions (at least of violent crime suspects) and established protocols for eye witness identification procedures. Both are subjects that have been firmly linked to the problem of wrongful convictions. There is a great deal of literature on both topics and I will blog further on this issue over the next couple of weeks, but today's question is rather different: Why is law enforcement opposed to measures that would make it less likely that an innocent person would be sent to prison (or even the death chamber) because of police errors or misconduct?

Here are some suggested answers (to be discussed further).

The Fantasy Factor
Like the tobacco industry (and at earlier time the automobile industry as well), law enforcement as a broad special interest is deeply alarmed at having to acknowledge that anything bad ever happens to innocent people as a result of their conduct.

  • What do these industries have in common that would lead to such a concern with obscuring rational discussion of the risks? (Hint: they all sell products that are in large part made of fantasies)
War on Crime Trumps Separation of Power
The war on crime has reworked the political dynamics between the branches of government in a way that shelters law enforcement from accountability. Legislatures and the US Congress have generally been unwilling to challenge in any way the presumption of both good will and infallibility on the part of law enforcement. It is remarkable that a bipartisan group of California legislators were able to come together to pass these bills in the first place (more on that later). Courts have been stripped (or more disturbingly still, stripped themselves) of much of their power to hold law enforcement accountable through the suppression of ill gotten evidence, or through financial responsibility in civil law suits for damages, or even to substantially investigate patterns of discriminatory behavior.

(That this is not, thank G-d, universally true, is testified to by one of Boalt Hall's most renowned graduates, the great Thelton Henderson , of the US District Court for the Northern District of California, who has been able to open the guarantuan California penal archipelago to its first serious examination in decades, see some of my earlier posts on prison litigation below).

The Decline of Investigation
Law enforcement has become reliant on forced confessions and other forms of junk evidence as a by product of its long dirty war on drugs. I shall be blogging further over the next few weeks on this third factor and the lost tradition of police investigation that has been covered over by this successful mass incarceration model. This is speculative. The conventional wisdom is that police are much more professional than they were a generation or two ago, largely a result of a decline in discretion and investment in better management, training, and technology. I don't disagree, but these improvements may have been swamped by the profound effects of urban police largely becoming embedded in a long and on going war on drugs. For a parallel that may prove fruitful, consider the discussion in Israel over whether the long involvement of the Israeli Defense Force in the suppression of Palestinian resistance to occupation on the West Bank and Gaza created internal changes the vulnerabilities of which were on display in the recent and disastrous (from Israel's perspective) Lebanese war.