Compiled By: Erika McGinty
From BackStory with the American History Guys | Part of the BackStory with the American History Guys Weekly Episodes series | 54:00
For many Americans, the storyline that played out on August 9th in Ferguson, Mo. — when an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white police officer — is not a new one. But the sustained protests that followed, in which Ferguson police used military equipment to suppress peaceful protests, have generated a new round of questioning about local police’s role in their communities.
On this episode, BackStory looks at the history of policing in America, and how the police forces we’re familiar with today begin to take shape - and we'll consider what happens when the police don’t protect those they serve.
For many Americans, the storyline that played out on August 9th in Ferguson, Mo. — when an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white police officer — is not a new one. But the sustained protests that followed, in which Ferguson police used military equipment to suppress peaceful protests, have generated a new round of questioning about local police’s role in their communities. On this episode, BackStory looks at the history of policing in America, and how the police forces we’re familiar with today begin to take shape - and we'll consider what happens when the police don’t protect those they serve.
From jrudolph group | 59:45
An audio history of the New York Police Department
Archival recordings and recent interviews are woven together in this hour-long documentary that tells the story of the New York Police Department from the 1940s to the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. From Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's famous, "sock 'em in the jaw," speech to new police officers in 1942, to first-hand accounts of a 1964 Harlem riot in which the police fired thousands of rounds of live ammunition, to the gripping story of police officers running for their lives after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, this program opens a window into the NYPD's fascinating history and the complex relationship between the police and the citizens of New York . With a score that includes music from cop shows like "Car 54 Where Are You" and clips from films including "Shaft" and "Serpico,? this program is a compelling examination of the one of the world's leading leading law enforcement organizations before and after 9/11. Among the topics covered - corruption scandals, struggles by police officers to win union representation, and conflicts between the police and New York's African-American and immigrant communities. You'll hear the voices of cops over the decades - emotional, colorful and controversial - along with their critics, their supporters, and scholars who have studied the NYPD. "Stories from the NYPD" is the latest in a series of historical radio documentaries about New York City by award-winning independent producer John Rudolph. Earlier programs (produced with WNYC, New York Public Radio) focused on New York City's waterfront; the career of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan; and the '60s civil rights movement in New York.
From Ben Markus | 05:09
The story of how beat cops cleaned up one of the most notorious housing projects in the nation
In response to rising crime rates, police departments nationwide are going back to basics, combining traditional patrol methods with an earlier "beat cop" approach. In Sacramento's Phoenix Park housing project the police faced quite a challenge. Even though the neighborhood was mired by gangs and drugs, they made an immediate, and lasting, impact on the shockingly violent project.
From Making Contact | 29:00
So-called ‘quality of life’ policing may temporarily decrease crime, but it has harsh consequences for innocent people caught up in the frenzy of arrests. If it’s illegal to be on a city’s sidewalks, parks and plazas, where else can people go?
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made so-called ‘quality of life’ policing a worldwide trend. And while it may have temporarily decreased crime, there are harsh consequences for the thousands of innocent people caught up in the frenzy of arrests. On this edition, the criminalization of homelessness. If it’s illegal to be on a city’s sidewalks, parks and plazas, where else can people go?
Neil Smith, Center for Graduate Studies at the City University of New York Geography and Urbanism professor; Carlton Berkeley, Former NYPD Detective and author of ‘What to do if Stopped by the Police’; Genghis Kallid Muhammad, Gene Rice, Elise Lowe, Picture the Homeless members; Protestors opposing New York’s disorderly conduct law; Melvin Williams, Coalition for the Homeless volunteer; Rob Robinson, National Campaign to Restore housing Rights organizer; Barbara Daughtery, homeless New Yorker; Mark Schuylen, former urban planner; Samuel Warber, street musician; Andy Blue, ‘Sidewalks are for People” campaign organizer; George Gascon, San Francisco Police Chief; John Avalos, San Francisco Supervisor; Jen Vandergriff, San Francisco resident; Jason Lean, homeless San Franciscan; Paul Boden, Western Regional Advocacy Project organizer
Producer/Host: Andrew Stelzer
Producer: Kyung Jin Lee
Producer/Online Editor: Pauline Bartolone
Contributing Producer: Sam Lewis
Executive Director: Lisa Rudman
Associate Director: Khanh Pham
Community Engagement and Volunteer Coordinator: Karl Jagbandhansingh
Station Relations: Daphne Young
Life of the Law (Series)
Produced by Life of the Law
Most recent piece in this series:
The gray wolf only roams a fraction of its historic range. While it used to inhabit huge parts of the
U.S., it’s now confined to just a few states. But last winter, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed taking it off the endangered species list throughout the entire lower 48 states, because in that small area, wolves are thriving. It’s the first step in what could be a radical reinterpretation of the Endangered Species Act, with ramifications far beyond wolf country.
Since the Endangered Species Act (ESA) passed in 1973, the government’s had lots of experience with listing species as endangered. Not so much on the delisting side of things. In 40 years, only 60 or so species have come off the list. We don’t really have a consistent standard for when to call a species recovered, in part because we can’t agree on what “recovered” means.
Where the wolves live big pie or small pie?
To make these decisions, we need to understand a key word: “range.” The ESA says a species should live where they’re meant to live where they’ve always lived.
Dan Rohlf of Lewis and Clark College School of Law has written a definitive guide to the ESA. “The law basically says we want to prevent human actions from causing the extinction of species,” he says.
As we work to recover species and ultimately remove them from the endangered list, we need to decide where in fact a species is endangered and where it’s recovered. “The Endangered Species Act also includes a legal definition of endangered species as a species in danger throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” says Rohlf. “And so that leads to the question of well what is a significant portion of the range of a species?”
More importantly, he adds is the question, does that mean a significant portion of the historic range, or a significant portion of the current†range? In the case of wolves, these are two very different things, and what the law means depends on which one you choose.
Let’s think about it in terms of the size of a pie. The wolf’s historic range is almost the whole lower 48 states. Rohlf says that would be a pie like your grandma might have made. “That pie is a big juicy delicious pie,” he says. “A significant portion of that pie is a lot of pie. But if you’re talking about a little prepackaged tiny pie that you buy in the convenience store, that’s a very small pie.”
In July 2014, The US Fish and Wildlife Service basically said wolves now only live in a small pie just five states. But in those five states, they’re doing well. This way of interpreting the law may have major implications for biodiversity. “The effect of that determination is that we can call species recovered,” says Rohlf. “We can say we have achieved conservation success, that their future is relatively secure. But their distribution will be only a small portion of their historic distribution.”
I set up an interview with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. But then a federal judge ruled in a critical case involving gray wolves in Wyoming. They cancelled the interview, and emailed me to say that they’d be able to “reengage after the dust has settled”. But the gist of their stance on wolves has two threads.
First, they say, it’s costly to restore a species, and resources are scarce. Second, and it’s worth mentioning this again, under their new interpretation of the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves don’t actually need more restoring. In the places where they’ve recovered, they’re thriving. Thus, the reasoning goes, they’re recovered in a significant portion of their current range.
The letter vs the spirit of the law
In 1973, Congress recognized that a complete ecosystem had “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” The ESA is the law that enshrines those values.
But focusing on species current, rather than historic, range, means we might be preserving an approximation of nature as it was. Rohlf says this perspective has critics. “The main criticism you see of that idea is that it’s really a museum approach to conservation,” he says. “It’s almost like we put these species under glass and we say, if you want to see Gunnison’s Prairie Dogs you go to this little tiny area over here. And if you want to see wolves you go to Yellowstone National Park. And we are really just preserving remnants of a species population as if we were preserving artifacts in a museum.”
There are also practical reasons to preserve species in more than a small area. John Vucetich, a wolf ecologist at Michigan Tech University, says the findings section of the ESA the section of the law explaining why we need it in the first place addresses the fundamental reasons the government should use a species’ historic range when making determinations about recovery. “The findings section of the ESA indicates that species have a variety of values and one of the values is ecological value,” he says. The government should be cautious about delisting any species. Thriving species contribute to healthy ecosystems. And until we fully understand those systems’ complexity, he says, we should do our best to keep them intact.
“If a species is valuable for its ecological function, it would have to exist in the places it’s supposed to exist,” he says. “Not just in the fewest number of places possible to prevent it from going extinct.”
Living with wolves
Wolves on the landscape may benefit ecosystem health, but how we interpret the law has a more immediate effect on where wolves live and how we live with them. That’s particularly true in Idaho where I meet wolf hunter Nick Brown. It’s legal to hunt wolves in Idaho, and Brown secures his wolf hunting tag for $11.50 from Idaho Fish and Game.
We drive about an hour north of Boise. Brown hops out of his pickup and chambers a round in a slick looking AR15 rifle. With the rifle slung over his shoulder, we begin walking down an old logging road.
“I started hunting wolves a couple years back,” Brown tells me. “I’ve always hunted big game animals, elk, and deer…ever since I was a young kid. And in just my lifetime I’ve noticed a huge decline in the amount of mule deer and elk.”
Brown sees hunting wolves as a way to increase the populations of the big game he likes to hunt. He’s of the school that fewer wolves mean more elk and deer and that’s a good thing. Hunting is big time here. That’s the core of the conflict: humans and wolves compete directly for the same prize. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re enemies. In my search to find a wolf hunter who’d talk to me on the record, I was thinking I’d only find someone downright pissed: pissed that wolves were back on the scene, angry in a “get off of my land” kind of way. But Brown has a more complex view of things.
“I was probably in third grade when they reintroduced wolves to the state of Idaho,” he recalls. “My entire school went into the cafeteria and we watched them release wolves and I just thought that was the coolest thing in the world…cool enough that I went home and asked my mom to take me to the public library so I could get books on wolves. I have no personal vendetta against the wolves,” he adds.
The conditions aren’t ideal for hunting wolves. It’s bone dry and hot, and wolves are hard to track without snow. But even in perfect conditions, Brown hunts methodically? relying on craft and a huge dose of patience. He tells me that last winter he spent 10 weekends in a row hunting an isolated group of wolves. He ultimately had them within a square mile. But one day, after stalking the wolves up and over a ridge, he lost their trail. “They were gone like a ghost,” he says. “They just disappeared.”
Brown says there’s a stereotype of a wolfcrazy hunter, hunting them to extinction. He said that’s not reality. I ask him how many rounds he shot in those 10 weeks. “Zero,” he says. “Zero.”
The court weighs in
Idaho and Montana issue thousands of wolf tags each year. Even though wolves can be hard to find, those kills add up. There are about 1500 wolves in that region now for perspective, scientists consider around 1,000 wolves the minimum viable population. The question of numbers came up in Wyoming last September. That’s when a federal judge in D.C. relisted wolves as endangered there. This is the big case about gray wolves in Wyoming I mentioned earlier.
Jim Magagna is the executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. He says ranchers are at odds with wolves since they occasionally prey on livestock. Since the ruling, it’s been a topsyturvy few weeks for his group. One day, in most of the state wolves were legally categorized as predators anyone could hunt them at any time. The next day, after the ruling no wolf hunting.
The issue was Wyoming’s system of dividing wolf territory into “predator” areas and “trophy” areas. The predator areas were shootatwill, while trophy game areas had annual limits. It was the state’s way of trying to follow federal law while allowing ranchers a lot of freedom.
In the trophy area, Wyoming was obligated to maintain a “buffer” population of wolves. But that obligation rested on little more than a handshake. “Ah, you know in the old west your handshake was your bond,” says Magana. “And so the socalled handshake between the state of Wyoming and the US Fish and Wildlife Service should have been honored by the judge.”
By which he means: the specific rules for the trophy area were never part of the law. They were just taken on good faith. Unfortunately, handshakes often don’t hold up well in federal court. In her ruling, judge Amy Berman Jackson refers to the trophy area as the weak link.
She writes: “the court concludes that it was arbitrary and capricious for the Service to rely on the state’s non-binding promises to maintain a particular number of wolves…” The handshake wasn’t good enough.
Still, her ruling didn’t change the bottom line: even though there’s a little legal confusion in Wyoming, she agreed with US Fish and Wildlife that wolves are still basically recovered.
Who gets to decide when an officer has done something wrong—the police chief or the people? Cities across the country are creating civilian oversight agencies which try to make local police and sheriffs accountable to the people.
Who polices the police? Do you or your neighbors have any say in the way your town’s cops and sheriffs do business? For more than 35 years, cities around the country have been creating civilian oversight agencies - trying to make local police and sheriffs accountable to the communities they serve. On this edition, producer Andrew Stelzer takes a look at the ongoing battle between the people and the police - and the debate over who gets to decide when an officer has done something wrong.
Barbara Attard, civilian oversight consultant, former San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints investigator and former Berkeley Police Review Commission Director; Marcel Diallo, artist and victim of police harassment; Rashidah Grinage, PUEBLO Executive Director; Jason Wechter, San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints investigator; Reginald Lyles, BART consultant and former Berkeley Police Officer; Gary Gee, BART Police Chief; Jesse Sekhon, BART Police Officers Association President; Quintin Mecke, California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s Communications Director; Greg Kaufory, attorney; Omar Osirus, Jan, and Bo, protestors; Daniel Buford, Allen Temple Baptist Church Reverend; Joyce Hicks, San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints Director and former Oakland’s Citizens Police Review Board Director; Patrick Cacares, Oakland Citizens Police Review Board acting director; Paulette Hogan, tasered Oakland resident who filed complaint with Internal Affairs; Chris Shannon, Oakland Police Lieutenant; Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant’s uncle; Mark Kroeker, Portland Police Chief.
Program #32-09 - Begin date: 08/12/09. End date: 02/12/09.
Please call us if you carry us - 510-251-1332 and we will list your station on our website. If you excerpt, please credit early and often.
We take a look at the Police killing of Oscar Grant in Oakland, and the debate over who gets to decide when an officer has done something wrong.
Who polices the police? Do you or your neighbors have any say in the way your town’s cops and sheriffs do business? For more than 35 years, cities around the country have been creating civilian oversight agencies - trying to make local police and sheriffs accountable to the communities they serve.
On this edition we take a look at the Police killing of Oscar Grant in Oakland, and the debate over who gets to decide when an officer has done something wrong.
Barbara Attard, civilian oversight consultant, former San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints investigator and former Berkeley Police Review Commission Director; Marcel Diallo, artist and victim of police harassment; Rashidah Grinage, PUEBLO Executive Director; Jason Wechter, National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement Board Member; Reginald Lyles, BART consultant and former Berkeley Police Officer; Gary Gee, BART Police Chief; Jesse Sekhon, BART Police Officers Association President; Quintin Mecke, California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s Communications Director; Greg Kaufory, attorney; Omar Osirus, Jan, and Bo, protestors; Daniel Buford, Allen Temple Baptist Church Reverend; Joyce Hicks, San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints Director and former Oakland’s Citizens Police Review Board Director; Patrick Cacares, Oakland Citizens Police Review Board acting director; Paulette Hogan, tasered Oakland resident who filed complaint with Internal Affairs; Chris Shannon, Oakland Police Lieutenant; Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant’s uncle; Mark Kroeker, Portland Police Chief;
From Dred-Scott Keyes | 01:00:13
The Cutting Edge looks at the causes and aftermath of the 1992 L.A. rebellion.