NYPD Sergeant Says ’Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ Is Just The Price We Pay For A ’Free Society’
2013-05-13 0:00

By Tim Cushing | Tech Dirt

We’ve been dealing with the New York police department lately, thanks to the mayor and the police chief using the recent Boston bombing as an excuse to increase surveillance efforts and enact other policies to further encroach on New Yorkers’ civil liberties. Whenever something terrorist-related occurs, it seems as though the NYPD’s reps can’t keep their opinions to themselves, even as the department itself drifts further and further away from being a sterling example of How Things Should Be Done.

In a recent Christian Science Monitor article dealing with "teenagers, terrorism and social media" (focusing on the recent Cameron D’Ambrosio arrest for making "terrorist threats" via some improvised rap lyrics posted to Facebook), Sgt. Ed Mullins of the NYPD shows up to make some very disturbing statements about your rights and responsibilities as a (mere) citizen. It starts with the worst kind of "policy" and goes downhill fast.

Using a zero tolerance approach to track domestic terrorists online is the only reasonable way to analyze online threats these days, especially after the Boston Marathon bombing and news that the suspects had subsequently planned to target Times Square in Manhattan, Mullins says. The way law enforcement agencies approach online activity that appears sinister is this: “If you’re not a terrorist, if you’re not a threat, prove it,” he says.

"Zero tolerance" is never "reasonable." It never has been and it never will be. In fact, it’s the polar opposite. Zero tolerance policies simply absolve the enforcers of any responsibility for the outcome and grant them the privilege of ignoring mitigating factors. It allows them to bypass applying any sort of critical thinking skills (the "reason" part of "reasonable") and view every infractions as nothing more than a binary IF THEN equation.

Mullins goes even further than this, though, asserting that the burden of proof lies with the person charged, not the person bringing the charges. This flips our judicial system on its head (along with the judicial systems in many other countries) and, if applied the way Mullins views it, puts accused citizens in the impossible position of trying to prove a negative. This is just completely wrong, and it’s a dangerously stupid thing for someone in his position to believe, much less state out loud. (Mullins also heads the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the second-largest police union in New York City.)

Believe it or not, Mullins is not done talking. What he says next doubles up on the "dangerous" and "stupid."

“This is the price you pay to live in free society right now. It’s just the way it is,” Mullins adds.

No. It isn’t.

[...]

Read the full article at: techdirt.com




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