MUST THE DOOR
Bail and sentencing reform come. Then stuff happens.
Must the door that feeds jails
and prisons forever revolve? Can we unplug the thing without causing even more pain? Let’s start with
three recent horror stories:
Last November, Charles Goforth, a 56-year old Chicago-area man, shot and wounded his girlfriend. He was soon arrested in Missouri. But a
magistrate released him on an $8,000 cash bond and Goforth went home to his wife. On January 30 he revisited
his victim, who was recuperating at home, and shot her dead.
I can’t believe they let me out” said Gerof Woodberry, 42. New York City cops arrested
him on January 10 for “stealing or attempting to steal” from four (count ‘em, four!)
banks. Thanks to a new
state law that abolishes bail for non-violent crimes, he was released two days later. Woodberry, who had
served prison sentences in South Carolina for five strong-arm robberies, promptly robbed two banks in four
days. He’s now in Federal custody, where the rules are different.
A RECIPE FOR DISASTER
Take an uncertain workplace. Toss in a "mission impossible" and pressures to produce. Voila!
LOOPHOLES ARE LETHAL (II)
Who can buy a gun? Indeed, just what is a gun? Um, let’s pretend!
LOOPHOLES ARE LETHAL
Federal gun laws are tailored to limit their impact. And the consequences can be deadly. (#345, 12/22/19)
DID THE TIMES SCAPEGOAT L.A.'S FINEST? (PART II)
Quit blaming police racism for lopsided outcomes. And fix those neighborhoods! (#344, 12/3/19)
DID THE TIMES SCAPEGOAT L.A.'S FINEST? (PART I)
Accusations of biased policing
derail a stop-and-frisk campaign
TECHNOLOGY'S GREAT -
UNTIL IT'S NOT
Police love Rapid DNA and facial recognition but hate encryption. Privacy advocates beg to differ.
MEANS, ENDS AND 9/11
Extraordinary measures beget extraordinary consequences
Despite redevelopment, South Bend's poverty and crime remain locked in an embrace (#340, 9/13/19)
Doing right by the public might
mean doing wrong to the cop
Stop with the tangential!
Gun lethality is, first and foremost,
about the projectile (#338, 8/12/19)
REPEAT AFTER US:
"CITY" IS MEANINGLESS
When it comes to crime, it's neighborhoods that count
TWO SIDES OF
THE SAME COIN
Street gangs and officer cliques have a lot in common (#336, 7/20/19)
CAN YOU ENFORCE
Decriminalizing illegal immigration would have serious consequences (#335, 7/1/19)
WITHOUT A DIFFERENCE
An epidemic of officer suicide raises the question: do guns cause violence? (#334, 6/22/19)
INFORMED AND LETHAL
Accurate information can provoke lethal errors (#333, 5/5/19)
Inner-city violence calls for a lot more than cops. Is America up to the task? (#332, 4/13/19)
DRIVEN TO FAIL
Numbers-driven policing can’t help but offend. What are the options? (#331, 3/27/19)
NO SUCH THING AS "FRIENDLY" FIRE
As good guys and bad ramp up their arsenals, the margin of error disappears (#330, 3/4/19)
A NOT-SO-MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION
Lapses in policing lead to chronic rulemaking. Does it hit the mark? (#329, 2/15/19)
A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE
Building cases with circumstantial evidence calls for exquisite care (#328, 1/26/19)
WHEN WALLS COLLIDE
Ideological quarrels drown out straight talk about border security (#327, 1/14/19)
COPS AREN'T FREE AGENTS
To improve police practices, look to the workplace (#326, 1/3/19)
RED FLAG AT HALF-MAST II
Preventing more than suicide may carry serious risks (#325, 12/5/18)
RED FLAG AT HALF-MAST
California’s Guv nixes expanded authority to seize guns from their owners (#324, 11/21/18)
PREVENTING MASS MURDER
With gun control a no-go, early intervention is key. Might artificial intelligence help? (#323, 11/4/18)
NOTCHING A "WIN"
A self-professed “sleeper agent” is (legally) flimflammed by the FBI
IS IT EVER OK TO SHOOT SOMEONE IN THE BACK?
Laws, policies and politics clash with the messiness of policing
Acting swiftly can save lives. And take them, too. (#320, 9/23/18)
THE BAIL CONUNDRUM
Bail obviously disadvantages the poor. What are the alternatives? (#319, 9/4/18)
Surprise! A well-known terrorist winds up in the U.S. as a refugee (#318, 8/18/18)
POLICE SLOWDOWNS II
Cops can’t fix what ails America’s inner cities - and shouldn’t try
Bedeviled by scolding, cops hold back. What happens then?
SHOULD EVERY TOWN FIELD ITS OWN COPS?
Recent tragedies bring into question the wisdom of small agencies
NO ONE WANTS EX-CONS TO HAVE GUNS
The New York Times affirms its liberal creds. And falls into
a rabbit hole. (#314, 6/24/18)
FEWER CAN BE BETTER
Murder clearances have declined. Should we worry? (#313, 6/9/18)
THE BLAME GAME
Inmates are “realigned” from state to county supervision. Then a cop
gets killed. (#312, 5/21/18)
IS YOUR UNCLE A SERIAL KILLER?
Police scour DNA databanks for the kin of unidentified suspects
THERE'S NO "PRETENDING"
Sometimes split-second decisions are right, even when they're wrong
2/14/20 Special teams of border agents are being deployed in nine areas, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New
York, whose “sanctuary” policies preclude cooperating with ICE. Their function will be to track down and
arrest immigration scofflaws who would otherwise avoid removal.
2/14/20 Fearful that
official opposition to the State’s recent bail reforms may cause them to be dumped altogether, New York’s
“progressives” are backing changes that would do away with cash bail but allow judges to keep dangerous
accused in jail. Factors that would be considered for remand would include risk of non-appearance, criminal record and
whether a crime resulted in death.
2/14/20 Church shootings have led
many congregations to hire guards and create teams of armed parishioners. Some States that restrict gun carry or
possession in churches or elsewhere have modified their laws to enable such moves, and similar legal adjustments are in
2/13/20 An extensive Chicago Tribune analysis of the effects of bail reforms
implemented by the county’s chief judge, including the reduction and elimination of cash bail, concludes that claims
it reduced violent crime are based on flawed data and a purposely narrow definition of a crime of violence. Twelve
homicides were allegedly committed in Chicago during the first nine months of 2019 by persons released under the new rules.
Lawsuits and challenges by two dozen individuals who allege that they were wrongly entered into Cal Gangs has led LAPD to
remove them from the statewide gang database. Police insist that they’re properly using the system. But the State AG
has opened an investigation.
2/11/20 In a speech to a national sheriff’s group, AG William Barr announced hopes that the Supreme
Court would overrule California laws that obstruct immigration enforcement. He mentioned lawsuits against New Jersey,
which keeps police from sharing information with ICE, and King County, Washington, which forbids deportation flights from
its airport. Barr also warned that lax prosecution of repeat offenders by “progressive” D.A.’s in
cities such as San Francisco imperiled public safety and was responsible for increases in crime and violence. Related posts
2/10/20 In 2017 Robert Williams,
43, was paroled for a 2002 attempted murder in which he shot a civilian during a carjacking then fired at police. Yesterday
he ambushed two NYPD officers sitting in a van, then opened fire in a precinct house. Two officers were wounded. Williams,
who was due to appear in court in connection with a recent arrest for obstructing police, was taken into custody.
2/10/20 A string of fatal
vehicle-pedestrian accidents involving drivers with a history of moving violations is leading New York City authorities
to consider get-tough measures against drivers who repeatedly rack up speeding and red-light camera tickets. Instead of
simply being fined, recidivists could face mandatory driver education or have their vehicles impounded.
Drawn from social media and other publicly-available sources, Clearview’s vast image database is helping
participating police agencies identify victims of child abuse depicted on offender videos and other media. While the
approach has met with success, privacy advocates fear its misuse.
2/9/20 In a 2011 op-ed a Forbes contributor detailed retaliation
against ATF agents who had objected to letting guns walk during Fast and Furious. A Washington Post reader recently
compared these actions, taken during the Obama years, to Trump’s reassignment of witnesses who testified against him
in the House during impeachment proceedings.
2/7/20 Four days ago NYPD officers arrested Gaspar Avendano-Hernandez, a two-time deportee, for felony driving with
a forged license plate. As New York is a sanctuary state, police ignored a detainer and released the man without giving
notice. ICE then confronted him at a home. A fight ensued and agents wound up shooting and wounding a young resident who
2/5/20 With his appeals denied all the way to the Supreme Court, former L.A. County Sheriff
Lee Baca, who reportedly suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, reported to a Federal prison near El Paso to begin
serving his three-year sentence.
2/4/20 When uncertainty
strikes, “the brain often fills in the gaps in perceptions, supplying missing information based on that
person’s past experiences or expectations.” That, according to Thomas Albright, who led the team that issued
the Culprit,” the groundbreaking 2014 NAS report, can affect what witnesses think they see, hear and
experience, with obvious consequences.
2/3/20 Critics claim that California’s Cal Gang database sweeps too
wide. Governor Newsom and the A.G. apparently agree. But their proposal to tighten how police label gang members - say,
not on clothing alone - are opposed by law enforcement. Its “solutions,” though, are being criticized by
activists for creating “loopholes” that supposedly keep race and economics in the driver’s seat.
2/1/20 Loopholes aren’t
just about guns. Nicotine-hooked teens are continuing to get their preferred, tasty fix by substituting one-time use
flavored vapes for banned Juuls. An obscure “footnote” in FDA rules that ostensibly limit flavoring to menthol
allows disposable units offering a full range of flavors to keep being sold. Related posts
1/31/20 Georgia State Patrol’s cadet class no. 106 graduated last August. After only a couple
of months of “writing tickets and arresting drunk drivers” its thirty members have all been fired.
Why? Spurred by an outsider’s tip, a massive internal investigation revealed that during their academy days the
officers-to-be had collaborated on a demanding online test about radar enforcement, using outside help and exchanging
answers. From now on, said the agency, all exams will take place in class.
1/30/20 Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth officer who shot through a
home’s window and killed its lawful resident was indicted for murder. Summoned by a neighbor who reported an open
front door, Dean and another officer arrived during the early morning hours. A woman in the home heard the commotion,
grabbed a handgun and came to the window. Dean yelled for her to show her hands, then fired a single shot, which proved
fatal. Related posts
years after his imprisonment for a gang rape, Rafael Ruiz was exonerated with DNA evidence. He was first tied to
the crime through the victim’s erroneous identification of the apartment where her assailants lived. She then
identified him through a sloppy show-up process even though his ethnicity didn’t match. His accuser admitted that
she had been uncertain but felt “pressured” by police to make an identification. Related posts
Guantanamo, during a pretrial hearing for the five defendants, James Mitchell, one of two psychologists who designed the
CIA’s waterboarding program and helped conduct interrogations, said that he told an accused “I will cut your
son’s throat” if there was another attack and Americans were killed. He said he was given permission by a
CIA lawyer, who advised to make threats “conditional.”
1/25/20 London police announced that video cameras using real
-time facial recognition technology will be deployed around the city to help locate suspects of serious crimes as they
walk the streets. Meanwhile, concerns about privacy have led New Jersey’s attorney general to bar local prosecutors and police from using
1/24/20 Concerned about the acquisition of untraceable “ghost” guns by criminals
and terrorists, twenty States and D.C. are suing to prevent the Federal government from taking steps to reverse rules
that, as presently interpreted, forbid posting plans for 3-D printed guns on the Internet.
1/24/20 In a letter
accusing the A.I. provider of violating Twitter’s terms of service, the social media website demanded that
Clearview stop using anything on its platform and purge its files (see 1/18/20 update).
1/18/20 A 92-year
old New York City woman was raped and murdered January 6. Four days later police arrested Reeaz Khan, 21, an
illegal immigrant. ICE had filed a detainer against Khan after his arrest by NYPD in November for assaulting his
father. But New York City law
prohibits acting on detainers except for persons who have been convicted of serious crimes or whose names appear
on a terrorist database. Khan met neither criterion so police released him without notice.
Hundreds of U.S. law enforcement agencies have subscribed to Clearview, a year-old
service provider that uses proprietary A.I. technology to compare suspect photos against a rapidly-growing database
populated with millions of images drawn from websites including Facebook and YouTube. Its first successful
application for police, in February, took twenty minutes to match the face of an unidentified shooter, captured on a
bystander’s cell-phone video, to his image on social media.
1/17/20 Federal agents arrested reputed Maryland white supremacists Brian Lemley Jr.
and Garfield Bilbrough IV, both from Maryland, and Patrik Mathews, an illegal immigrant from Canada, on
conspiracy and gun charges. According to a
Federal criminal complaint, Lemley obtained an assault rifle upper receiver by mail order. He and Mathews then
used this item and other gun parts to make a machine gun, which they fired at a range. They also allegedly acquired
body armor and 1,500 rounds of ammunition. All three had intended to attend a rally in Virginia to protest its gun
laws. Related post
1/9/20 The Chicago Tribune compiled a list of sixty-two shootings and threats of shootings by Illinois
concealed-carry licensees between 2014, when the state CCW law was passed, and August 2019. For each incident it
summarized the circumstances and linked to available stories.
1/9/20 A number of LAPD officers (reportedly, more than a dozen)
assigned to its stop-and-frisk campaign have been removed from duty for purposely and incorrectly portraying persons
they stopped as gang members, thus inflating their productivity and minimizing errors.
NY Times Related posts
military student Mohammed Alshamrania, who shot and killed three and wounded eight at a
Florida naval base December 6, had two Apple iPhones. The FBI secured warrants to search the phones but found that
both are password-protected. So it’s reached out to Apple. But Apple’s long insisted it can’t
access locked phones, and has so far refused to build in a “back door.” Related posts
1/7/20 New York
City murder climbed from 293 in 2018 to 315 in 2019, a 7.5% increase. Robberies and felony assaults were also up, by
3.0 percent and 1.4 percent respectively. But property crime fell. According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the long-term downward trajectory in NYC
crime is “irreversible.” Meanwhile a 13-year old charged in the December 11 stabbing death of a New York City college student
remains in custody
while police build cases against his 13 and 14-year old companions.
1/5/20 An official
analysis of RIPA vehicle and pedestrian stops by California’s eight largest law enforcement agencies during the
second half of 2018 revealed similar racial/ethnic patterns to what was reported for Los Angeles. Blacks (and Native Americans) were the most frequently arrested. Blacks
were also searched nearly three times as often as whites although the latter were more frequently found with
contraband. There was no racial/ethnic breakdown for being on probation or parole, nor for having firearms.
Related posts 1
Blue H.E.L.P. reports that 228 law enforcement officers, including 39 who
were retired, committed suicide in 2019. Figures for prior years are 172 in 2018, 168 in 2017 and 143 in 2016.
PERF, which considers suicide cops’ “number one occupational risk,” ; recently published “An Occupational Risk:
What Every Police Agency Should Do To Prevent Suicide Among Its Officers”.
1/4/20 An academic study in Denver post-marijuana legalization reported statistically
significant increases in property crime, and non-significant increases in disorder and drug crime, for areas with
retailers of recreational marijuana. Violent crime did not change. No effects were noted in connection with medical
1/1/20 New York
police and prosecutors warn that new state law which, regardless of an accused’s criminal record, bans cash bail
outright for most misdemeanors and “non-violent” felonies, will lead to more crime and witness
intimidation. While civil libertarians counter that such fears are overbown, the changes may keep some accused
stalkers, robbers and burglars from being detained. Related post
Dailey sits on death row for the 1985 stabbing death of a Florida teen. Appeals done, his execution seems imminent.
But his alleged accomplice, who’s doing life, says Dailey had nothing to do with it. Lacking physical
evidence, authorities relied on the word of a jailhouse informer who swears that Dailey admitted the crime. Jurors
convicted Dailey in 1987, and Florida’s governor has said that it’s time for justice to run its course.
Related posts 1
12/30/19 An oddly-
dressed man who seemed to be in disguise pulled a shotgun during services in a Texas church and began firing. Two
were killed, including a guard who tried to intercede. Other armed parishioners, members of the church security
team, returned fire, killing the assailant.
12/28/19 Forty-one persons have lost their lives in mass shootings in the U.S. so far this
year. According to the USA Today/AP/NEU project, which tracks all shootings where four or more are killed other
than the perpetrator, that’s the worst toll since the 1970s.
Following a national buy-back in which residents turned in more than 56,000 guns, New Zealand’s prohibition on
military-type semi-auto rifles and high-capacity magazines went into effect. Propelled by the March massacre that
took fifty-one lives at two mosques in Christchurch, the law has met resistance in a land where gun ownership is
widespread. Related post
12/22/19 Thirteen were shot, two critically, at a party in Chicago’s Englewood
neighborhood. The event was being held to honor a man fatally shot during a carjacking (police claim he was the
perpetrator.) Still, police data indicates that citywide shootings and murders continue to fall. Related posts
12/16/19 BJA released
“How to Reduce Repeat Encounters,” a four-step plan designed to help police executives devise and
implement management and response strategies for identifying and properly dealing with troubled, repeat users
of police services. Related posts
12/12/19 On December 10 self-styled “Black
Hebrew Israelites” David Anderson and Francine Graham gunned down Jersey City police detective Joseph Seals,
then stormed a Jewish market and engaged in a protracted firefight, killing three citizens and wounding two officers
before police shot them dead. Anderson and Graham took an AR-15-style rifle, a shotgun and two 9mm. pistols into the
store. A silencer-equipped weapon and a pipe bomb were found in their van. Anderson, an ex-con with prior arrests for weapons
offenses, had apparently posted hateful messages on social media and mentioned past massacres. Related posts
Democratic and Republican lawmakers joined with Attorney General William Barr and British and Australian officials to
demand that Internet portals build in “backdoors” that allow law enforcement agencies to intercept
encrypted communications. But Facebook, which is planning end-to-end encryption, complained that doing so would make
its system vulnerable and be “a gift to criminals, hackers and repressive regimes”. Related posts
12/12/19 A years
-long investigation by the Justice Department I.G. revealed that FBI agents knowingly submitted deeply flawed
information to gain court approval for a F.I.S.A. wiretap of Carter Page, a former C.I.A. source who was suspected
of passing anti-Clinton materials from Russian intelligence to the Trump campaign.
On December 4 Gabriel Romero, a sailor standing guard at Pearl Harbor, opened fire with his issued weapons, killing
two and himself. Two days later, Saudi military student Mohammed Alshamrania used a pistol to kill three and wound
eight at a Florida base. He was shot and killed by police. Romero was in trouble with the Navy and getting counseling. Alshamrania had reportedly
posted hateful tweets and recently gathered friends to watch mass shooting videos. Related posts
income New York City neighborhoods have seen a rise in gang shootings. One Queens neighborhood has suffered thirty-two
shot and twelve killed to date, twice last year’s toll. Special police teams patrol hot spots, and “
neighborhood coordination officers” are contacting youth to prevent what violence they can. But guns are cheap
and plentiful, and the warfare continues. Related posts
Usman Khan, 26, served eight years in a British prison for participating in a terrorist cell that planned to carry out
attacks across England. During his term he supposedly reformed and, on release, became a role model for others.
Considered thoroughly rehabilitated, he traveled unsupervised to a prison conference in London. That’s when he
suddenly pulled a knife and began slashing, killing two and injuring three before he was shot dead by police.
12/4/19 Thirty-six years after their imprisonment, Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart walked
out of prison, once again free men. That’s how long it took before the Baltimore D.A. acknowledged that police
and prosecutorial misconduct, including hiding exculpatory evidence and coercing young witnesses, led to their wrongful
conviction in the murder of another teen. Authorities think they know who the real killer was, but he died years ago.
Related posts 1