In the real world, people actually take a few minutes to review proposed legislation instead of blindly accepting the opinion of someone else – and broadcasting that third-party description on your TV program. I guess Bill O’Reilly does not live in the real world.
I’ve heard rumors about the number of staff O’Reilly has working for him, and he does not have an excuse. Last night, I watched about 60 seconds of his show and Megan Kelly called him out on the miss-information he was passing out. I don’t have the video, and there will be no transcript available, but O’Reilly stated NYPD would be forbidden by law to provide a description over the radio of a suspect. Although wrong, this was not a misrepresentation on O’Reilly’s part, as there are media interviews of union representatives where they say their hands will be tied and he blindly believed them. Paraphrasing… “If a subject was a white male wearing jeans and a red t-shirt, the radio description would be limited to jeans and a read T-shirt.”
Now, the legislation may be total crap, but why is the police union lying about the legislation? It’s simple, they are taking the easy way out and marketing their opinion to the low-information voter. They have learned from the best don’t you know?
Here is a PDF document of the legislation. It’s only six pages so it’s not that hard to go through. Can anyone, anywhere – including O’Reilly and his crew – find a section that restricts how law enforcement can describe suspects over the radio? You won’t.
Here is the section everyone is freaking out about, with my emphasis in bold. Keep in mind that racial profiling is already against the law, and this legislation wants to expand the definition to include national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, housing status and immigration status. My emphasis is in bold.
“Bias-based profiling” means an act of a member of the force of the police department or other law enforcement officer that relies on actual or perceived race, [ethnicity, religion or national origin, color, creed, age, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or housing status as the determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action against an individual, rather than an individual’s behavior or other information or circumstances that links a person or persons [of a particular race, ethnicity, religion national origin] to suspected unlawful activity.
Still, there are tremendous problems with the proposed legislation. If a “subject of bias-based profiling” puts a team together to somehow “prove” they were targeted based on the expanded definition of profiling, they can bring a civil suit against …
(i) any governmental body that employs any law enforcement officer who has engaged, is engaging, or continues to engage in bias-based profiling, (ii) any law enforcement officer who has engaged, is engaging, or continues to engage in bias-based profiling, and (iii) the police department where it has engaged, is engaging, or continues to engage in bias-based profiling or policies or practices that have the effect of bias-based profiling.
Yes, they can sue the individual officers. How many lawyers will jump on this and start bringing civil suits up against the department and individual officers to make a few dollars? Get this – those subject to the “bias-based profiling” can’t make a dime per this proposed legislation. All they can get is injunctive and declaratory relief. No damages awarded … just a “don’t do it again” order.
The remedy in any civil action or administrative proceeding undertaken pursuant to this section shall be limited to injunctive and declaratory relief.
But as mentioned, the lawyers and the experts will get a payout if they win what can only be described as a subjective opinion ruling.
In any action or proceeding to enforce this section, the court may allow a prevailing plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees as part of the costs, and may include expert fees as part of the attorney’s fees.
In other words, the city council is threatening the police department with lawsuits and political penalties for enforcing laws. Of course the media will also criticize these individual officers and the department even of the suit is hogwash. They are hoping cops will “ease up” and leave the criminals alone. Certainly, profiling based on race as a single factor does not work, but the city council seems to think law enforcement continues to bother people based on the color of their skin alone. This has been proven to not be true in a general sense. Certainly I’m not saying it never happens, but there is no overall policy to stop and frisk hispanic males. (I’m not liking “stop and frisk” too much either.)
This is an example of how the low-information society works. I can understand not being willing to read the 2,000 page health care legislation or trying to plow through thousands of pages concerning immigration reform, but can’t we at least be willing to read six pages if you’re going to comment on it to a few million people?