Obama also instructed his media allies to help federalize policing, and to sideline the critics of centralized policing rules. “I expect our friends in the media to really focus on what’s in this report and pay attention to it,” he instructed.
Obama is using the crisis sparked by the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, who was killed after assaulting a shopkeeper and a policeman in Ferguson, Mo. Obama and his deputies stoked the subsequent controversy in the run-up to the 2014 election, in the hope of boosting African-American turnout. The mobilization effort failed, partly because local law-enforcement officials released a video showing Brown’s strong-arm robbery of a store shortly before the fatal shooting.
Now Obama is trying to expand progressive control by attaching more conditions to federal funding of state and local law-enforcement efforts. “We can expand the [federally-funded] COPS program… to see if we can get more incentives for local communities to apply some of the best practices and lessons that are embodied in this report,” he said.
Those best practices likely will eventually include rules that restrict police investigations of groups that are part of the Democratic coalition, and rules that try to lower convictions and penalties among favored sub-groups of the United States, regardless of the actual rates of illegal activity among those groups.
“I think communities [with police forces] across the board are going to need to consider… recommendations around prohibiting racial profiling [and] that’s a step that we’ve already taken at the federal level,” Obama said.
The report also calls for government to collect more data about state and local policing. That data will help federal officials impose new rules. “We need more information to find out how to take to scale best practices when it comes to training so that police officers are able to work in a way that reduces the possibilities of bias,“ Obama said.
State and local policing may need to be subordinated to federal social policy, Obama suggested. “Our approach to our drug laws, for example, and criminalization of nonviolent offenses rather than taking more of a public health approach — that may be something that has an impact in eroding trust between law enforcement and communities.”
Those political goals are echoed in the tasks force’s interim report.
“Law enforcement agencies should acknowledge the role of policing in past and present injustice and discrimination and how it is a hurdle to the promotion of community trust,” the report says. “The Federal Government, as well as state and local agencies, should encourage and incentivize higher education for law enforcement officers.”
Other recommendations include “Law enforcement agencies should engage community members in the training process…. [government] should ensure that basic recruit and in-service officer training include curriculum on the disease of addiction… Law enforcement agencies should implement training for officers that covers policies for interactions with the LGBTQ population, including issues such as determining gender identity for arrest placement, the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, and immigrant or non-English speaking groups, as well as reinforcing policies for the prevention of sexual misconduct and harassment..”
Obama’s strategy matches the progressive playbook, which continuously expands progressives’ power by gradually adding more conditions to federal aid. That same strategy is implemented in education via the “Common Core” education plan, in the health-sector via Obamacare, in the banking industry via the mortgage rules that caused the damaging property bubble and in housing via Obama’s “regionalism” plan.
That’s strategically different from prior Democratic administrations, which cited poverty as a justification for expanding federal aid. The unemployment rate for African-Americans in Ferguson is roughly 16 percent.
In his Monday statement, Obama did not mention unemployment.
Obama hinted that his plan to centralize policing rules is likely to face widespread opposition. “Law enforcement is largely a local function as opposed to a federal function…A lot of our work is going to involve local police chiefs, local elected officials, states recognizing that the moment is now for us to make these changes.”
Obama pushed the media to aid his takeover.
“Often we see an event that’s flashy; it makes the news; people are crying out for solutions. And by the time recommendations are put forward, our focus has moved on and we don’t actually see and pay attention to the concrete ways that we can improve the situation,” he said.
“There’s some good answers to be had if we don’t make this a political football or sensationalize it, but rather really focus on getting the job done,” he told the media. “So I appreciate everybody’s efforts. I’m going to be focused on it. I hope you will be, too.”