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Friday, March 6, 2015

Eric Holder doesn't believe law enforcement uses citizens to generate money

In what could be considered an out-of-touch-with-regular-folk moment, Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters Friday he was shocked that law enforcement uses citizens to generate revenue.

"The notion that you would use a law enforcement agency or law enforcement generally to generate revenue, and then the callous way in which that was done and the impact that it had on the lives of the ordinary citizens of that municipality, was just appalling."

Example of fees and costs generated by courts and law enforcement. (Source).

Holder was referring to the findings of the Department of Justice investigation of the Ferguson, MO police department.  The investigation found that the department "engaged in or practiced a pattern of conduct that violates the Fourth, Fifth, and 14 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

See also: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

“Our investigation showed that Ferguson police officers routinely violate the Fourth Amendment in stopping people without reasonable suspicion, arresting them without probable cause, and using unreasonable force against them", said Holder.

President Obama said he doesn't believe the practices by the Ferguson police reflect the practices of law enforcement across the country, but doesn't believe it's "an isolated incident" either.

Related: Building communities of trust

Ferguson residents have been besieged by police who repeatedly fined, and or arrest the most financially vulnerable of the city's citizens for seemingly minor offenses - like jay-walking - resulting in substantial fines and court costs.

Excerpt from the administration's 21st Century Policing task force document - page 9.
Results of the Ferguson police department investigation comes at a time when the has unveiled his Task Force on 21st Century Policing in an effort to promote trust between police and local communities -- a monumental task in the wake of continued reports of alleged police brutality and murder of citizens by police (seemingly at will).

The notion that law enforcement uses its citizen to generate revenue probably isn't news to a lot of people given the fact that more and more prisons are being built across the United States and reports show an increased incarceration rate, especially in areas where people of color reside.

Related
America's Stop and Frisk policy
Ferguson cops shot; Holder calls perps "punks"
Iowa cop charged with violating civil rights, police brutality