Who Watches The Watchmen?
Perhaps you do, with some assistance from the NAACP.
An innovative national program to help fight crime in American cities and towns will be unveiled Monday, July 13th at the NAACP Centennial Convention in New York City.
The initiative includes a bold new online effort, the NAACP Rapid Report System (RRS), a quick, effective way for citizens to report instances of police misconduct, and to help public safety officials move beyond the “tough on crime” policies that have lost their effectiveness.
The Rapid Report System will be available starting July 6, through the NAACP website (www.naacp.org). The user-friendly online RRS form will allow residents to send instant texts, emails, or video reports of police abuse to the association via cell phone.
A mobile phone, at the right time, makes investigative journalists of us all.
Texts and emails are of limited value. "He said. She said." But photos, while they can be explained away, do capture a moment in time in a fairly indisputable fashion. As for video, particularly extended video, I challenge anyone to show an innocent explanation for what happened to Father James Manship. Or, and while I was reluctant to use this video because its aftermath distracts from the point, this:
News media reports on this innovation call it an effort "to fight racism," particularly againt black people. I wouldn't dispute that black people are on the receiving end of a disproportionate amount of police abuse. So are Latinos. But it can happen to a white redneck who looks low rent, or an Asian-American, or a blue person. It can happen to anyone.
I think that Radley Balko, who's made it a mission to document police abuse among many other things, is the most important journalist I regularly read. The most important blogger to have emerged in the past year is Packratt, of Injustice Everywhere, who takes Balko's focus on police misconduct and injects it with steroids. Sadly Packratt may shut his site down, but we are slowly, a little more every day, approaching a point where the thickheads who've given the honorable profession of policeman a bad name will realize that they may be watched at any time. Someday, even police who are inclined to abuse may govern themselves accordingly.
But the resources that people like Balko and Packratt have are peanuts compared to the NAACP. The added assistance and credibility of a powerful, almost establishment organization like the NAACP, will only hurry that day up. If you care to see the NAACP's reporting page for mobile phones, click here.
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