THIN BLUE LIE
The Failure of Excessive-Tech Policing
By Matt Stroud
Over the previous twenty years, expertise has taken over policing. Officers put on physique cameras to document their encounters and carry newfangled weapons like tasers that appear to come back straight out of “Star Trek.” The police patrol felony “scorching spots” recognized by massive knowledge. Suspects are tracked with GPS, cell-site simulators and video surveillance enhanced with facial recognition software program. Has all this pricey expertise made us safer?
Not going, in accordance with “Skinny Blue Lie: The Failure of Excessive-Tech Policing,” Matt Stroud’s incisive, muckraking exposé of the “police industrial complicated” — the online of legislation enforcement companies, for-profit companies and politicians who more and more exalt expertise as the way in which to reform American policing. Though progressive instruments might help clear up crimes, police departments usually embrace new applied sciences with out satisfactory testing or enter from affected communities. The result’s that “fixes” can irritate the very issues they had been designed to treatment.
Stroud, an investigative journalist with an eye fixed for element, begins the guide with a bang — or slightly a zap. Volunteering to be tasered, he describes a rare ache that lasted solely 5 seconds, he writes, “however felt like an eternity.” Felled by the weapon, Stroud’s personal expertise is a metaphor for the troubling story of how tasers grew to become customary tools for cops. Developed initially as a nonlethal various to the gun, tasers had been relentlessly marketed to police departments by Taser Worldwide, a hungry start-up that stirred demand via superstar cop endorsements and dramatic demonstrations of burly volunteers being dropped. Firm trainers touted the tasers as protected, encouraging officers to make use of them early and sometimes to forestall unhealthy conditions from escalating. Main police departments purchased in and Taser Worldwide grew to become a Wall Avenue darling.
Then the our bodies started to mount. Tasers didn’t result in a decline in gun use, as marketed; they grew to become as a substitute a brand new instrument for police abuse, employed towards nonthreatening folks for failure to comply with officers’ instructions. And a few taser victims did die — deaths for which Taser Worldwide publicly denied duty, citing post-mortem studies that, in accordance with Stroud, didn’t assist the corporate’s claims. Certainly, Stroud insists the corporate by no means even rigorously examined the protection of tasers. Based on Stroud, Taser Worldwide’s executives, in an effort to maintain gross sales and inventory costs excessive, reduce corners, misled the general public and the police and within the course of made tens of millions. In the meantime, taxpayers, who foot the invoice for police misconduct, have paid out greater than $172 million in taser-related lawsuits.