This was originally a Twitter thread, posted on Sunday, June 14.
Did you know that your local police probably has a publicly accessible blotter or call log?
Yes, you can see exactly what your police do with your tax money.
I’ll pick a (pre-COVID19) day to show what Boulder CO PD does.
Boulder is a
- College town
- And about 100,000 in population
I picked May 17, 2019 (by rolling dice. A 5 on 12 sided, two 10 sided until I got something under 31.) That was a Friday. The weather was perfect: sunny, low of 47 F, high of 70 F.
The log is here: https://bouldercolorado.gov/police/call-log-may-17-2019
BPD started the day with a traffic stop at 0207.
Traffic stops are pure money makers that cost cop lives.
At least half of all cop fatalities over the past 20 years were because they stepped into traffic in the dark or because someone driving past flashing lights has just had their night vision ruined. More cops die in traffic accidents & traffic stops than due to criminal action.
We can replace most traffic stops with cameras & night buses.
We can also stop being such Prohibitionists about public intoxication. That statute exists to mess with people of color, the homeless, and women. Most drunk people are no threat to others.
0348: BPD came across some found property, near one of the major intersections. Yeah, this was an incredibly valuable use of their time, and probably the most useful thing they’ll do all day, assuming they got it back to its owner, and didn’t chuck it in the To Be Auctioned pile. (See the article just above. Police auctions are legally stolen property. With very little accounting.)
0815: a theft was reported. The log doesn’t say if an officer actually showed up, or did anything about it. It also doesn’t say if this was someone walking off with a yard gnome or an ex decided to steal a car. Given the residential neighborhood? Could be any.
0902: injury accident. EMS is the appropriate dispatch. A secondary dispatch should be an accident investigator (who SHOULD NOT be a cop – they need to be forensics & a neutral party who represents the community) and 2-3 people to direct traffic. No cops needed here.
0956: fraud reported. Again, no details. As I’ve said many times about money laundering, if we want to get a handle on crime, we need ACCOUNTANTS, not cops. A forensic accounts investigator should be sent to a fraud report, not someone who has 11 weeks of cop school.
1026: unknown injury accident. See 0902 — send EMS, an investigator, traffic direction.
1036: report of a cold hit & run. Given that neighborhood? Someone probably rear-ended or side-swiped a car parked on the street or in a parking lot. The person reporting needs an insurance expert, not a cop. Again, traffic cameras would be far more useful here.
1132: suspicious I/P (incident/person)
This is the stuff nobody needs.
This is Karen seeing a black man walking down the street, or a homeless lady talking to herself.
This is what gets people killed, and if it requires a response (Planet-sized IF), the response should be psych triage or a social worker — someone who deescalates. (And someone able to give the reporting Karen a telling off for not minding their own business.)
1244: property damage. See 1036 — this doesn’t need a cop, it needs an insurance expert and an investigator.
1252: Trespassing I/P
Likely doesn’t need a cop, but this is the first potentially legitimate use of a peace officer. Preferably one with de-escalation training, patience, who isn’t scared of every little thing, and doesn’t want to play the explosives.
This is why we don’t want people who like to play with the explosives handling the trespassing cases. https://www.9news.com/article/news/local/greenwood-village-home-destroyed-police-court-ruling/73-54f6f358-3f57-4011-9085-ab0872020016
1056: (Log says 1056, I think it might be 1256) Theft
Unless it’s a theft in progress, this needs an accountant & investigator, not someone who may have failed Algebra II. A cold theft is solved by matching where and when the theft happened, not by force of arms.
1228: (Log says 1228, out of order) Followup
For what? Who knows. But a followup doesn’t need someone armed.
1409: Suspicious I/P
See 1132. Armed response is not necessary.
See 1056. Needs an investigator.
1205: Welfare Check
Oh, lord, cops are the worst possible response for someone in the midst of a mental health or physical health crisis. STOP MAKING MY JOB WORSE BY ADDING FEAR OF DEATH TRAUMA TO HEALTH CRISIS TRAUMA. (Off my soapbox.)
Send a psych & EMS triage team.
1345: Property Damage
Needs an insurance expert, not armed response.
1420: Animal Complaint
Send Animal Control/Humane Society
1405: Welfare Check
Send psych/EMS, not cops
1419: Property Damage
Needs insurance export, not armed response.
See 1056: needs an investigator.
Who knows what this was. This category is because we don’t have any other community resources, so we send the graduates of an 11 week class to do mental health, social work, investigation, forensics and engineering.
See 1056: needs an investigator.
1501: Walk In report
This could be anything from a parking lot fender bender to reporting wage theft. If it’s the latter, the cops are utterly, completely useless. Wage theft is considered civil. There is no way for a worker to accuse a boss of stealing.
1615: welfare check
Send psych/EMS, not cops
1847: Pedestrian contact
This could be anything from someone using a skateboard on the sidewalk to jaywalking or even walking while drunk.
This is likely a probable cause stop; I’d bet a bagel the person stopped was not a white dude.
See 1056: needs an investigator.
1918: Pedestrian Contact
1859: Missing Person
This needs an investigator who is an expert at victimology, not an armed response. When missing persons cases become murder cases, it’s generally because the cops fail to understand the person who is missing, and thus miss critical information. (In memoriam, Hae Min Lee.)
1924: Hit & Run Accident
Given time & place? This is either end of rush hour, or a cold hit and run in the Park & Ride Parking garage. If the latter? This needs an investigator who can look at the structure security cameras, and an insurance expert. No armed response needed.
2029: Traffic stop
A camera would do this job cheaper, safer, and more effectively, with less bias. If people are speeding, it’s because the road is designed wrong. This is an infrastructure problem. https://www.strongtowns.org/slowthecars
2021: Attempt to locate
This is what falls between Missing Person and Welfare Check, and usually, at that hour and that neighborhood? Is someone looking for a teenager/young adult. Doesn’t need an armed response, on either end.
2105: Attempt to locate
(Same address as the previous one, so this is closing out the one that was opened just above.)
This is either Target or Trader Joe’s, given address and time. They both close at 10, and they’re the only businesses in this block where shoplifting is possible after 9 pm. Assuming it’s REALLY shoplifting (it’s often racism), shoplifting is a result of an unmet need — for food, rent, cleaning, substance — and needs to be treated as a gap in the community.
2112: Suspicious I/P
See 1132; armed response is not necessary
Same address as 2122. See 2122.
See 1056; needs an investigator
2135: Child Abuse
This needs Child Welfare experts, and often we need peace officers who are trained to restrain & de-escalate, not shoot.
A child who is in danger is NOT reassured by police presence.
That child is already traumatized and the presence of Child Welfare means their day is likely to get much worse — being taken into care is traumatic, and being left in an abuser’s care is dangerous.
Because police often have a history of being bullies, the worst cops tend to side with the child’s bullies. I’m not saying ALL cops are the worst cops here, but this is a risk we don’t want to take when we’re talking about children. They’re hard enough to fix.
Don’t make my job worse — let’s stop adding the trauma of bad cops on top of bad parents. (If you need a reality check on this, go read up on Gabriel Fernandez and how cops treated him. What’s rare about him is his parents were convicted, not how he was treated.)
2115: Disturbance I/P
We’re now at Friday night, pre-COVID, on the lower part of the Hill (where we relieve students of money). Good chance this is a drunk & disorderly, or a party. Community mediators can handle this more safely & effectively than an armed response.
2344: Officer Initiated Event
This is what Boulder PD calls any form of pretext or probable cause stop. This is an exercise of power, and totally unnecessary. Will bet a bagel that the person evented upon was not white.
And that’s a Friday in Boulder, CO for the Boulder PD. Their presence was barely required, and for the most part, they didn’t DO anything. A normal weekday in Boulder has about 30 officers on shift at any time. (The force is around 150; detectives don’t work nights, usually.)
Boulder doesn’t need a lot of police presence; it’s relatively wealthy and despite the annual influx of students, is actually aging rather than getting younger.
Boulder could use a white collar crime unit, because that’s the crime most common in an older, wealthy, white population.
But a white collar crime unit is not made of armed graduates of a certificate program — they’re accountants and lawyers and computer programmers. In terms of salary, they cost about the same as a cop, but with significantly lower liability (and health insurance costs). Fixing the money part of crime is always more effective than going after entry level contractors.
You can do this for most towns. Your search term is “town” “state” “police log” or “blotter”. Look at each entry carefully and consider if someone with a gun can make that situation better.
You’ll usually find that someone else is a better option for all involved.
PS: Yes, Boulder is an easy town for early defunding & dissolving, because it’s wealthier and liberal.
But the thing is? We need the wealthy, liberal towns with low crime rates to step up and do this early, so that people can see it’s not a recipe for destruction.
LET’S TURN DEMONSTRATION MODE ON.
The goal is to repurpose funds to where they’ll do the most good, as quickly as possible.
I’m 100% OK with sending cops (who haven’t burnt out) to accounting school or to get their social work/counseling licenses.
I want them 100% focused on school & PTSD counseling for 4 years, because it will take that long to break the habits of mind that come from militarized policing.
Policing as it stands makes angry, traumatized people feel worse.
Someone who is already traumatized feels dangerously out of control. In part because they have no external controls: this is the damage that QI (Qualified Immunity) does.
So what they need is TO BE CONTROLLED, but that’s not available under our current systems.
Holding police accountable also gives police the security of knowing that they have boundaries. Some people need that external pressure to behave.
This is basic behavioral health, by the way — having both internal and external boundaries is what makes healthy relationships.
Police have spent decades becoming more out of control because the boundaries we placed on them have not been reinforced.
Early on, they were like teenagers breaking curfew — first by 5 minutes, then more. And like teens who have learned there’s no control, they can’t stop themselves, because they’ve never learned any control, external or internal.
Of course they will throw tantrums now that they’ve pushed their toleration far beyond reason.
It’s not an excuse; it’s a failure of their internal culture, and our shared culture, and our justice system.
But this is simple human behavior: to be in control, we must be controlled.