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.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. says

    Forgive me for using this comment to make an aside, but it's important to note that Radley has a well-deserved position with Reason to feed the puppies while he engages the forces of evil in battle.

    Packratt, on the other hand, does so without any expectation of remuneration, and indeed suffers the consequences of the time, effort and expense of providing us with a wealth of information about police abuse and misconduct. This is added to the fact that PR began following his personal suffering at the hands of police, then exacerbated by his inability to find a lawyer willing to take on his case. Yet he persists, and hopefully will find a way to continue.

    Perhaps someone will emerge who will fund Packratt's efforts? I believe that he will prove to be well worth the cost.

  2. Patrick says

    I'm ashamed to admit it never occurred to me to look for a "donate" button at Injustice Everywhere.


  3. says

    When cell phone cameras became popular, nailing lying cops was one of the first things I thought of. Many years before, one of the cops patrolling a nearby business district had the habit of starting to write parkers about 20 minutes before the time the no-parking zones went into effect. He'd just write a later time on the tickets. There was no real way to fight this. He was a scumbag, and he didn't care how many people knew it.

    Nowadays, I'd photograph the citation, proving it existed tens of minutes before the time it was supposed to. Since the timestamp on a photo can be faked, it would be better to email it to a third party to record the time it was received, but I could never figure out who to send it to. My lawyer? The county court clerk's office? (which doesn't publicize its email address) The police review authority? (also no public email) A big accounting firm that saves all correspondence?

    This NAACP page is a step in the right direction, but it needs to be something you can do from your phone. It also needs to be something you can do quickly, because misbehaving cops have been known to confiscate cameras.

  4. Patrick says

    It's in testing, but I believe that the url linked above will lead directly to a phone-accessible web upload form.

  5. says

    It doesn't work with my phone. I can fill in the text fields, but I can't attach an image (probably because of the phone's security against browswer-based attacks). Hmm…I suppose I could post it to my Facebook page…