Understanding Carbado's Model of Police Violence

police, police brutality, racism, violence -

Understanding Carbado's Model of Police Violence

*post currently in progress*

Devon Carbado's model of how "Blue-On-Black" violence is produced (and reinforced) by a combination of factors illustrates that racist police violence is NOT a matter of rare "bad apples". If anything, our system is a machine that PRODUCES bad apples, and this is how.

The Carbado model is very useful in examining the many elements that factor into the cycle of police brutality. Those who wish to reduce (or abolish) these events may find it useful to consider. For example, if we replace one element of this cycle without changing the others, the cycle will change, but not necessarily stop. For example, social workers would assumably not shoot people so much, but factor 1 and 2 would still be in place, at the very least. CPS, which is staffed and operated largely by social workers, takes away the children of Black families more often than white families, and has mishandled cases drastically with minimal to no followup, so the cycle there is less lethal, but still largely intact. While saving lives is a priority, all systems that prey on Black communities must be dismantled.

Their diagram breaks the cycle down into 3 elements that lead to police violence disproportionately targeting black people, and the 3 elements of the legal system that exacerbate and intensify the behavior.

    • Proactive Policing (Broken Windows policing)
    • Mass Criminalization (of trivial offenses)
    • Racial Segregation
    • Criminality Stereotype
    • Group Vulnerability (LGBTQIA+, disabled)
    • Revenue Generation
    • 4th Amendment Law

    • Violence Stereotype
    • Formal Arrest
    • System Involvement
    • Police Insecurity
    • Rights Assertion / Resistance

    • 10 Police Department Dynamics that Increase Violence
      •  lack of training on use of force & de-escalation
      •  militarization & warrior mythos
      •  training that depicts neighborhoods as war zones
      •  hypermasculine culture & training
      •  culture of community ownership
      •  lax internal review for use of force
      •  lack of bias awareness and disruption training
      •  officers that feel like their lives are always at risk
      •  failure to address sexual violence from officers
      •  "bad apple" solutions
    • Prosecutors decide whether force is justified OR if there's enough evidence to prove that it wasn't.
    • Then Grand jury, and then judge/jury decide whether force is justified
    • Bias factors into every one of those steps
    • Qualified Immunity is supposed to protect Police from paying the liability for all but the most egregious offenses
    • But indemnity will pay for it anyway, even if it IS so egregious that there's a conviction.
    • “If police officers know that their violent conduct will be considered justifiable force or that they will be immune from civil liability or indemnified if they are found civilly liable, they are less likely to exercise care with respect to when and how they employ a violent force“. (Carbado)

Steps 4, 5 and 6 comprise the "rinse and repeat" part of the cycle, where the police officer is cleared of all wrongdoing and returns to work, knowing they're pretty much in the clear to do it again. The three main hurdles for an incident of police violence has to clear before justice can be served are justifiable force, qualified immunity and indemnification.
Justifiable force is determined by our legal system in four ways prosecutors decide whether or not to file charges and when they decide to not file charges that establishes that police violence was just Justifiable force or there is not enough evidence to pursue charges of unreasonable force if charges are filed then a grand jury must indict the officer but if they don’t that establishes that the force was justifiable because the whole jury could not be convinced that it was a no Unreasonable a third way that violence is transformed into justifiable force is the reasonableness doctrine that these cases are judged on. Either a judge or jury will have to decide whether the officer violated the law. If they do not convict then the force is deemed reasonable. All of these points of decisions are subject to explicit and implicit biases on the part of the deciding people that’s many many chances for racism to twist the outcome.
Currently this reasonableness doctrine is based on the officers decision to use violence, but does not examine whether the action or tool selected was reasonable, i.e. a gun instead of a taser. One avenue of change is to adjust the justifiable force process to account for both the reasonable belief AND reasonable action.
Qualified immunity is a barrier that protects police officers in the cities they serve from liability for damages from police actions including brutality. When suing a police officer for violence the claims are based on a violation of it A persons constitutional rights this is usually based on the fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. Officers then must prove that either their conduct did not violate the persons constitutional rights or that if they did those rights were not clearly established at the time. That last part manages to cover a Whole lot. If the court can establish that the constitutional rights of the person who was attacked we’re not clearly laid out then whether or not they were violated is derailed as the issue. For the constitute Constitutional rights to be clear however an identical case needs to have already been charged. This issue of clarity is where many cases get lost.
Indemnification. If the case gets past justifiable force and qualified immunity it’s still faces indemnification. Indemnity establishes that police officers rarely have to pay for their own damages. Instead, the damages are paid by the city so the police officer does not lose anything from having provably violated a citizens constitutional rights. On one hand, plaintiffs will get more money from a city then they will get from individual officers but that means that no consequences have been visited on the officer. 
Qualified immunity protects police officers from civil liability and indemnification protects them from financial liability“. Qualified immunity is supposed to be in place so that only officers who or far beyond inappropriate will have to pay the financial liability of having been found civilly liable. But indemnity handles that financial liability so qualified immunity does nothing except keep plaintiffs from getting justice OR compensation.
So that's the full picture of how this not just happens, but keeps happening, and why it's so hard to stop. If one factor is negated, the rest keep on trucking. So it's not that they didn't work, but that there's much more than one, or two, or ten things that need to be changed. 

It's not an easy problem and won't be an easy solution, but this model is great for  ensuring that we eventually get to each thing.  Seeing where a particular social effort will impact the system is also helpful.

Seriously, if you want to fully understand WHY it (doesn't) work the way it does, go read Devon Carbado's paper on this model specifically, and then his related works. 

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