Earl Warren's greatest mistake?
European sentencing can't work without European policing
I obviously never worked as a cop in the United Kingdom, but I did wonder what it would be like. American policing is often (rightly) informed by the logic of “don’t get shot.” Stand behind the B-pillar during a traffic stop. Stand to the side of the doorway when you knock. And so on. I wouldn’t police unarmed (British police get stabbed!) but policing a society without guns would have been very, very different.
Progressives also think about the European criminal justice system a lot. “The police in the U.K. don’t even have guns!” they say — as if this is an option in a country with 20,000 annual homicides, 300 million firearms in private hands, and where half of the states don’t even require a permit to carry a handgun. They also like to talk about how European countries do corrections and punishment. “The United States has too many prisoners!” they say.
Yet American thinking about European criminal justice is decidedly selective. It is true that the European system is far less punitive when criminals are caught and convicted. But when it comes to the rules that govern police investigations — search, seizure, the right to remain silent, and the use of illegally gathered evidence in court — the Europeans have adopted procedural rules that empower police to a degree that I think most Americans would find intolerable.
I think this structural difference matters, and can’t be ignored when we talk about differences in incarceration. When there’s no Bill of Rights, policing is easier, the criminal justice system is more efficient, crime is more easily deterred, and repeat offenders still spend a lot of time in jail even if each sentence is shorter. Put simply, I think Europe can afford a less punitive justice system on the back end because it has more efficient policing on the front end.
I. A simple theory of crime
My personal theory of crime is that both policing (deterrence) and incarceration (incapacitation) reduce crime. Policing may be more efficient than incarceration, but some of each is required and longer sentences can substitute for ineffective policing — at least up to a point. My theory is inspired by Alex Tabarrok’s argument about how America is “underpoliced and overprisoned.” Tabarrok, an economist, endorses what he calls the “good parenting” theory of crime and punishment:
Our focus on prisons over police may be crazy but it is consistent with what I called Gary Becker’s Greatest Mistake, the idea that an optimal punishment system combines a low probability of being punished with a harsh punishment if caught. That theory runs counter to what I have called the good parenting theory of punishment in which optimal punishments are quick, clear, and consistent and because of that, need not be harsh.
Tabarrok is more skeptical than I am about incarceration. He points out European countries spend much more on policing than on prisons, and suggests we could get the same crime reduction benefit we get from incarceration (or an even greater one) with a larger investment in policing:
I think Tabarrok is half right. It is true that as compared to European criminal justice systems, the American system operates as a “reverse lottery”: You can commit a lot of crimes in America and get away with them most of the time. But on the rare occasions you do get caught and convicted, we bring down a harder hammer.
But unlike Tabarrok, I also think that incarceration can work and that it worked in the 1990s. It works because it incapacitates repeat offenders, and repeat offenders commit an enormous number of crimes. So while longer prison sentences may not be the most efficient solution, they do reduce crime up to a point.
If I’m right, we would expect that letting offenders out of prison without also making the system more effective on the apprehension side is going to increase crime. And sure enough, this is exactly what we see in studies that look at real-world cases where prison populations were suddenly reduced and also what happened right after mass COVID-19-related jail releases in the United States in 2020.1
I agree with Tabarrok that we could theoretically avoid this problem via effective policing. Simply having more police will deter some crimes. And if police are more effective and more crimes are solved, repeat offenders will still spend most of their time in prison, while those who are rehabilitated will spend less time in prison.
The question I have not seen Tabarrok or anyone else ask is: Why don’t we already do this? If Gary Becker was so obviously wrong, and all we need to do is spend more on policing and less on prisons, why isn’t America already using the “good parenting” approach? Most people just say “dysfunctional politics” but that doesn’t really make sense. Decisions about police and sentencing are made at the state level. States have to balance their budgets (and have some incentive to save money when possible) and are ideologically diverse. Could it really be there’s been this silver bullet for criminal justice policy just sitting out there, yet not a single blue state has ever implemented it successfully? Even back in the 1960s?
My theory is that American constitutional law effectively requires the reverse lottery system. We can’t use the “good parent” model of punishment that the Europeans use because our policing is less efficient at a structural level. Unlike Europe, we sharply limit what police are allowed to do and release guilty criminals when police violate procedural rules. My suspicion is that our justice system uses a lot of incapacitation because it needs to: American constitutional rules make police-centric deterrence an inefficient way of preventing and responding to crime.
II. The price of freedom
American police procedure revolves around Supreme Court decisions that interpret and enforce the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution. Starting in the 1960s, Earl Warren’s Supreme Court began putting real limits on what police are allowed to do. The Warren Court created constitutional rules like:
Terry v. Ohio: Prohibits all pedestrian stops (and most traffic stops) unless there is reasonable suspicion that someone is violating the law.
Miranda v. Arizona: Every arrestee must be told they have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney, and given an attorney if they ask.
Mapp v. Ohio: Courts must exclude evidence gathered unconstitutionally.
Obviously, these rulings did not make it impossible for police to solve crimes or for prosecutors to get convictions. But I think what matters for deterrence purposes is the difficulty of solving the marginal crime. Just using an eyeball test on murder clearance data, we can see Mapp, Terry, and Miranda were all followed by a large and sustained decline in clearance rates. Correlation isn’t causation and clearance rates are affected by a lot of things — we can see they plummetted again in 2020. But for whatever it’s worth, there is a rough correlation. And the drop is not immediate, but gradual, which is what I would expect as big changes filter down through America’s decentralized system of lower courts and local police departments.
Many caveats must be included here: there are a whole lot of different things that go into solving crimes — especially murders, which are very complicated — and this association may mean little. But Jeff Asher recently suggested Miranda contributed to falling clearance rates, and if you think Miranda (which is intended to exclude coerced confessions, but also protects the guilty) led to falling clearance rates, why would the same not be equally or more true of rulings like Mapp and Terry, which make it harder for police to obtain and use perfectly reliable physical evidence?
All that said, my intuition is that America’s constitutional rules have less impact on murder cases and a much greater negative impact on the effective policing of “simple” crimes like gun and drug possession. As one cop noted here on the Graham Factor, gun possession should be easy to investigate and prosecute: If you have a gun and aren’t allowed to, you’re guilty. Yet prosecutors in Washington D.C. are only filing about two-thirds of gun possession cases that D.C. police bring them:
During the first half of 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s office said prosecutors in D.C. Superior Court pursued 112 of the 186 felon-in-possession cases brought by police. Forty-five of the cases were considered still under investigation, and 29 were dropped altogether.
Even if you only count the cases where prosecutors have reached a final decision, fully one-fifth of gun cases in D.C. are being dropped. Why? Problems in court. Take this case from 2014:
D.C. police stopped the driver of a vehicle with a broken brake light in Southeast Washington and found suspected marijuana in the center console. The vehicle was registered to the driver’s girlfriend, and police got a warrant to search her home, finding a bag containing a Glock 9mm handgun, mail in the driver’s name and drawings by the couple’s child under a bed.
Prosecutors ultimately won a conviction against the man on gun charges. But the D.C. Court of Appeals threw it out, saying the evidence connecting the man to the gun was “quite thin” and ruling authorities had failed to “establish the link between the gun and a criminal enterprise.”
Or another case from 2016:
[T]he D.C. Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of a man who was arrested by members of the Gun Recovery Unit in 2016 in Northeast Washington. The appeals court decided officers did not have sufficient evidence to detain the man, rejecting prosecutors’ argument that police were in their rights to approach him because he was in a “high crime area” and had made “slight adjustments with his front waistband.”
I think it’s important to note that when we exclude evidence police found illegally, we aren’t protecting innocent people. The guy in the 2016 case is guilty — even if you think the police didn’t have reasonable suspicion to stop him, there is no doubt that had a gun in his waistband. There are other gun cases in the Washington Post article which also ended when evidence was excluded, and a former D.C. cop described a similar problem when I asked him about gun crime a while back.
It’s also worth pointing out the fact that even when cases aren’t dismissed, having so many potential failure points makes the entire process less efficient. If there’s even a chance of getting a charge tossed on Fourth Amendment grounds, defense attorneys will file a motion to suppress, which takes months to resolve and means prosecutors must prepare for the hearing. The 2014 case described above wasn’t dismissed on Fourth Amendment grounds, but I’m sure the defense filed motions and appeals arguing the traffic stop and house search were illegal. What should be a simple gun case becomes complicated to successfully investigate and prosecute.
My experience is that most people working in the criminal justice system now take this whole set of procedural rules for granted — even most cops support them. But Europe does criminal justice very differently, and I think that difference is part of what makes the “good parent” model of policing and punishment work.
III. Stop, European police!
Obviously, there is no Bill of Rights in Europe, but the basic structure of the justice system is also different. Continental European countries use civil law legal systems. According to John Henry Merryman’s book The Civil Law Tradition, civil law systems have two aspects that Americans would find unusual:
Court decisions are not precedent — so there is no “case law” like Terry v. Ohio. Everything must be in a statute, or it isn’t law. Rules for police — for searches, seizures, interrogation, and so on — are mostly made by legislatures.
The justice system is inquisitorial rather than adversarial, meaning the goal of the system is to find out whether a defendant is guilty or innocent. Rather than being neutral, judges may oversee or direct investigations. Prosecutors and police have limited discretion, and prosecution is often mandatory.
To highlight what these differences mean for police in practical terms, I tried2 to learn about the procedural rules that police are required to follow in three larger European countries: the U.K. (common law system with parliamentary supremacy), France (civil law), and Germany (civil law).
Edit (7/19/22): A European reader emailed me to say that some courts in Europe construe statutes in light of decisions from the European Court of Human Rights. I did look at some ECtHR cases, but some of what follows here may not be correct in practice.
A. Search and seizure
Rules for British police are found in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). PACE gives police a power similar to what American police have under Terry — they can stop and search someone if they have “reasonable grounds” to do so. The warrant process under PACE also appears to be broadly similar to the American process.
The glaring difference is Section 60. Under PACE, if a police commander believes a certain area has seen or is about to see a lot of violence, he can draw lines around it on a map and cops now have 48 hours to search and seize anyone in it for no reason at all. U.K. police will send out maps showing the latest Section 60 zones:
French search and seizure rules are even more relaxed. France is a civil law country, and so French judges have supervisory power over the police. In practice, however, judges don’t have time to review and approve everything the police do — so they delegate. A textbook on French law explains:
[I]f the juge d’instruction is unable to carry out all the investigatory measures, he may give a commission rogatoire to officers of the judicial police so that they may carry out such investigatory acts as are necessary in the circumstances subject to the rules laid down for them…. In reality, the police have more power than in England, for they are exercising the powers of a judge, but are subject to less control in that they do not require prior authorization for searches.
I’m probably oversimplifying, but it sounds like the French police write and approve their own search warrants. French police also have the authority to stop suspicious people (similar to a Terry stop) and may conduct suspicionless “identity checks” in certain areas so long as they are preapproved by a prosecutor and “the decision to conduct such searches was adequately justified by the needs of public order.”
Germany is closer to the American system. Still, German police operate under looser search and seizure rules than police in the United States. A textbook describes the search warrant process:
In cases where search warrants are required, by law, the prosecutor, and ultimately a judge, must approve the warrant request… Where a delay in obtaining a warrant may compromise evidence collection, German procedure law permits prosecutors to approve a warrant without judicial oversight. In contrast to American criminal procedure, the level of suspicion required to obtain a warrant in Germany falls below the American probable cause requirement. The police may search a home, apartment, or business, for the purpose of arresting a suspect or if ‘it may be presumed that such search will lead to the discovery of evidence’
Several sources suggest “delay” which “may compromise evidence collection” is not the same thing as “exigent circumstances” in the United States. Apparently, “it’s night and the judge is asleep” is good enough. One article says German police get a warrant in just 10% of house searches, though this number should probably be taken with a grain of salt given that it is at least 20 years old.
I haven’t been able to find a good explanation of whether German police can stop and search pedestrians without suspicion under a Section 60-style rule — possibly because Germany has a federal government, which means every German state has its own code of police procedure. But as is the case basically everywhere (including France and the U.K.), German police are entitled to stop vehicles for no reason at all.
B. Questioning suspects
In Europe, the right to silence guaranteed by Miranda is not so absolute. British police are required by PACE to read this “caution” to arrestees:
“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in Court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
Basically: “You don’t have to talk to the police, but if you don’t, we’re going to hold it against you in court.” And in fact, the law does allow British courts to draw negative inferences from a suspect’s silence.
In France, the “right to silence” is virtually nonexistent. French police can detain and question suspects without a lawyer for up to two days:
Detention in custody by the police may last for up to 24 hours, though it may be continued for a further 24 hours by the procureur [prosecutor]. … [T]here is no prohibition on the police questioning a suspect, unless he or she objects….
During such detention, the suspect has rights … which must be drawn to his attention. These are the right to inform a member of his family or employer of his detention, the right to a medical examination, and the right to a lawyer. The right to a lawyer is limited. It arises only after 24 hours (and then at subsequent periods of 12 or 24 hours) and involves the right to have a conversation of up to 30 minutes with his lawyer or with a lawyer appointed by the head (bâtonnier) of the local bar. The lawyer is there to advise on the detainee’s legal position, and cannot be present during the police interviews.
The German right to silence is closer to the Miranda rule. The Federal Constitutional Court has explained that drawing adverse inferences from a suspect’s refusal to talk is generally not allowed.
C. The exclusionary rule
Although the exclusionary rule has been weakened in recent years, America is still one of the only countries where courts default to excluding evidence police obtained illegally. European courts mostly do a sort of balancing test — if the evidence is reliable, it can be admitted even if police obtained it illegally.
For example, in France, a court can exclude illegally obtained evidence, but exclusion is discretionary and it seems there is a presumption against it.
The procureur, the juge d’instruction, or the defence can apply to the chambre de l’instruction to strike out such items from the [court] file during the course of investigations…. In most cases, however, it is up to the court to decide if the breach of procedural requirements is serious enough to justify the nullity of evidence gathered for breach of public policy or of the rights of the defence. Article 171 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that a nullity is only pronounced where there has been a prejudice to the person concerned.
My understanding is that in practice, this means that European judges are willing to exclude coerced confessions (since they are likely to be false), but unwilling to exclude physical evidence (as it is a reliable indicator of guilt). In one infamous German case, police threatened to torture a child kidnapper who 1) claimed his child victim was still alive and 2) refused to disclose his location. Under duress, the defendant admitted the child was dead and gave police the location of his body. German courts excluded the defendant’s confession but refused to exclude physical evidence recovered as a result of said confession, including the child’s body. The defendant was found guilty.
IV. The difference in practice
Why should we believe different rules make a difference?
First, let’s go back and look at how our dismissed Washington D.C. gun cases would have turned out in a European court. The guy in the 2014 case with a gun in his house probably gets convicted in France and Britain — British courts may draw an adverse inference from a suspect’s refusal to account for items found in his possession. Also, the investigation and prosecution would have been more efficient: Police would not need a reason to stop the car, it would be easier to search the home, and there would be no point filing in motions to suppress evidence without the exclusionary rule.
And the 2016 case, where the guy had a gun in his waistband? He gets convicted in any European jurisdiction, as do any number of cases in D.C. where guns are excluded from evidence due to a lack of reasonable suspicion supporting the initial stop. In France and Britain, a suspicionless stop in a “high crime area” would likely be legal from the get-go so long as police obtained prior approval. And of course, even if a court ruled that the stop was illegal, there’s no way the gun would be suppressed.
Given all this, I find it impossible to believe that European prosecutors are dropping a third of weapons cases like prosecutors in D.C. are. In Europe, these are simple cases. Those carrying illegal weapons are easily apprehended, swiftly convicted, and receive a relatively light sentence. By contrast, in the United States, we make it hard to catch or convict the felon with a gun in his waistband and then compensate by giving long sentences to the unlucky guys that couldn’t win a suppression hearing.
A casual look at homicide clearance rates in Europe also suggests that American rules make it hard to solve murders: In 2012, 80% of homicides were cleared in France, 85% were cleared in England and Wales, and 88% were cleared in Germany. Some nations report nearly perfect clearance rates — Finland clears 97% of homicides, Switzerland says they clear 94%. Even ten years ago, before de-policing and falling police staffing and Ferguson, our clearance rate of 65% was one of the lowest in the developed world. It’s since fallen even further.
It’s also important to remember that these rules don’t just shape conviction rates — they shape how police and street criminals behave. If you’re in the United Kingdom and you know the local police have declared a Section 60 order, you probably leave your gun (or, more likely, your knife) at home. If you’re a cop in Europe and can stop any car at any time for any or no reason, you don’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether the stop will hold up in court or getting sued. I doubt European cops really stop many people at random because stopping people at random isn’t very efficient. But it is certainly much easier to do proactive policing when you know for sure that what you’re doing is legal and will be held up in court.
What do the Europeans do about police accountability? Well, as I mentioned above, there is more direct judicial and prosecutorial supervision of the police. Departments also use administrative punishments3 (like suspension) and criminally prosecute cops who commit crimes. The assumption seems to be that when prosecution is mandatory instead of discretionary, a prosecutor who receives a complaint about police breaking the law must either act on it or explain why he won’t. In the case I mentioned where German police threatened to torture a child kidnapper, the officers were criminally prosecuted for official coercion and convicted.4 In the United States, there’s a good chance that a local prosecutor wouldn’t bring that case at all.
Is the European approach better? In Merryman’s book about civil law systems, he quotes an (anonymous) comparative law scholar as saying that if he were guilty he’d prefer to be tried in the United States, but if he were innocent he’d rather be tried in a civil law country. The conceit of the European legal system is that it focuses on guilt or innocence instead of legal process. This is why a right to silence may be limited, but the police aren’t allowed to lie during an interrogation. A formal warning like Miranda is less important than making sure a confession is actually true. For similar reasons, the use of plea bargaining in major cases is limited. I don’t know whether this actually leads to fewer false convictions, but it seems plausible.
It’s worth noting that groups in Germany, France, and Britain still complain that police in those countries are racist and use too much force — in fact, if you click through and read those links, you’ll see complaints that are essentially identical to complaints about American police. So do American police engage in more or less misconduct than European police? I don’t know that anyone has actually tried to quantify this. European police use deadly force less often, but there’s no reason to believe that reflects anything other than the fact that police in the U.S. are attacked with firearms far more often. Ultimately, the difference in accountability practices doesn’t seem to make much difference in the eyes of police critics.
V. Trade-offs strike back
I want to be clear that the point of this post is not: “The Bill of Rights must go.” I am sympathetic to the idea of eliminating the exclusionary rule, but I definitely wouldn’t want to replace Miranda with the French system. My suspicion is that we cannot have our cake and eat it too: Yes, the Europeans do not send criminals to prison for as long as we do, but in exchange they seem to have accepted more limited individual rights, especially in public spaces. My point — one I often return to — is that liberty and security are a trade-off.
I also think that the idea of overruling Terry or Miranda is totally off the table — even if the Supreme Court actually did it, I bet that many states and cities would codify the same protections in statutes. Americans — including cops — are very attached to our current scheme of individual liberties. So what are the realistic policy options?
1. Change nothing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea that it’s better to (1) minimize intrusions on innocent people and (2) severely punish the guilty. There’s a moral argument to be made for the idea that criminals deserve to be punished and the innocent deserve to be left alone. Different nations prioritize different outcomes and different values, and that’s okay — the United States doesn’t need to copy Europe.
2. Invest in our police. One of my previous correspondents noted that his proactive unit did not receive enough legal training, and I’ve previously called for more training as well. Theoretically, we could compensate for the reduced efficiency of our criminal justice system by spending even more on police — hiring more cops, providing better legal training, and so on. The efficiency gap means it probably won’t be good enough just to match Europe’s spending on policing — we’ll need more police per capita and better training than what European countries provide to their officers.
3. Technological solutions. There is an impulse to ask why American police aren’t getting more efficient as technology advances — i.e., use more traffic cameras. The problem here is that American courts don’t seem to want police who are too efficient. Some courts now hold that using cameras to track a suspect in a public place violates the Fourth Amendment, and many states limit or ban traffic cameras. Contrast that approach with London, where surveillance is famously pervasive.
What we can’t do is decide that we’re going to just let criminals out of prison without taking steps to improve the efficiency of our systems of policing and prosecution. Or, I guess, we can — but simply switching to European sentencing is not going to give us European results. The most likely outcome is that we get a sharp and sustained increase in crime, followed by a re-run of the same crime debate that America had in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.
Comments Archive (8/1/22):
From a British perspective, one major difference with the USA is witness intimidation, which is very rare here (or at least less likely to be deadly - witnesses are very rarely killed) and means that more murders can be closed. An unusual counter-example would be the recent trial over the shooting of BLM activist Sasha Johnson at a house party which collapsed for reasons the judge refused to divulge. That's as close as they'll come to saying they can't prosecute because of witness intimidation by gangsters.
I wonder how many of our problems in the US come back to the pressure to plea out; even when the DA has the goods?
I may be warped by Chicago’s legendary bad practice and poor governance but it amazes me how if a person goes on a spree, they are rapidly pled down to minimal charges and the sentencing operates concurrently (this may be a separate issue). It just came up recently where a POS, who should have been in jail but had some charges dropped, got out and then of course commuted a gun crime (on a PO; she’s recovering from bullet fragments in the neck).
In any event if you plea 95% of cases the negotiation always reduces charges. And often times felonies are eliminated. I don’t know if you found anything useful on charging/sentencing. It seems that other countries limit discretion so maybe that helps.
It seems like European countries have historically frowned upon plea bargaining. The idea seems to be that serious crimes should usually lead to a trial, which is not such a big deal since they don't really do jury trials in Europe. One link I included in the article suggests that the authorities in France could not agree to a plea bargain which leads to a sentence of greater than one year in prison. Presumably, anything beyond that must be proven at trial. All that said, I assume prosecutors in Europe also have some discretion to reduce charges, so there may be borderline cases where charges get dropped below the "threshold" where a plea bargain is acceptable.
I do know that one of the biggest "bargaining chips" in the United States during the plea bargaining process is the admissibility of evidence. Prosecutors will give good deals when they think a suppression motion has a chance of winning, because it's better than seeing someone walk. Presumably, without the exclusionary rule, that happens a lot less often.
As a German, I generally trust our police. When I learnt that American police are allowed to lie to you, I could not imagine them being a trustworthy institution. How can you trust someone that is supposed to stand for law, order and morality, but gets to lie to your face? The idea just made me extremely paranoid.
Reading your blog, I kinda get why the US system works like that. I think this idea is especially unpalpable to a people who have been thru two totalitarian police states in living memory.
I can’t imagine German police aren’t allowed to lie at all. Do they not use informants, undercover officers or sting operations?
Yes, we do. But police aren't allowed to claim that they have fingerpints or other incriminating evidence (like an accomplice confessing or witness), when they don't. That was the part, that to my knowledge was allowed in the US. And I found particularly disturbing. You're right, that undercover agents are arguably a form of lying. Not sure how stings vs illegal entrapment works here. I'm not bothered by that. Not sure, I can explain exactly why.
I think it’s consistent with the idea of placing emphasis not on procedure but on guilt or innocence. If an undercover cop sees someone breaking the law, they’re likely guilty. By contrast, confessions obtained by lying to a prisoner might be unreliable and false. In the United States we are far more worried about procedure: you don’t have to talk to the cops and as long as they told you that and you decided to talk, what you say next is on you.
I think Germany's system seems far closer to America's than you are making it out to be. Germany's protections against false or coerced are actually stronger than Miranda with many of the methods used by American detectives (i.e. the REID technique) being banned for being unduly coercive. German police are also not allowed to lie to suspects like American cops. Also your description of the role of judges here is misleading. Judges are neutral arbitrators. The magistrates who direct and oversee investigations are different people with different roles than the judges who adjunct trials. Overall, I don't think the problem with American solve rates is that the police aren't allowed to stop people without good reason. Its that police funding is too low and also inefficient, with insane amounts of money being spent on police overtime rather than things that would actually help solve cases such as hiring more detectives.
The Germans are definitely closest. But I think even their general approach to traffic stops, search warrants, and the exclusionary rule adds up to a system that makes it substantially easier for police to effect detentions and solve cases than in the U.S.
In fact, because of de-policing and collapses in police staffing, the American criminal justice system is probably now weaker both on the incarceration side and on the policing/crime detection side than it was in 2020.
Obviously, I have no formal training in European law, and so I welcome corrections from any readers who do.
In Europe, virtually no employment contract — private or public — is “at-will” like in the United States, and as far as I can tell this applies to the police too. A British cop recently received a “final written warning” for wrongfully tasering a suspect in the groin after a disciplinary panel determined termination would be “disproportionate.”
On appeal, German courts upheld the conviction but reduced the officers’ sentence to a warning, probably because the “victim” was a child killer.