The idea of police accountability, of course, should be one easily grasped by everyone from citizens to those instituting departmental policies nationwide. A cop murders someone? Arrest them, charge them, and convict them. But as years of corrupt policing in cities and counties around the country have shown, that's almost never the case.
In the latest episode of Complex World, host Speedy Morman hears from an assortment of voices on the issue of cop accountability, including deep-dives on why—among other troubling facts—the conviction rate for cops who commit acts of brutality is so startlingly low.
Adding to the difficulty of raising awareness about—and ultimately achieving—swift and widespread conviction for police officers is the oft-repeated talking point of the far-right that inaccurately posits crime rates as being higher among people of color. As Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs executive director Jonathan M. Smith noted, the data actually shows similar patterns of criminal conduct between white communities and communities of color.
The real issue, Smith agreed, is the tendency of departments to eschew accountability in favor of dedication to a broken system.
"There's individual officer accountability and you see that the system of individual accountability in many jurisdictions is deeply broken because it does not identify officers who engage in misconduct, properly investigate that misconduct, and then appropriately issue a sanction," Smith said.
Catch the full episode, also featuring interviews with activist Tamika D. Mallory and former Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau, via the video up top.