Police Issues

Regulate. Don't "Obfuscate".
(#389, 6/13/21)

Tailor remedies to the workplace.
And keep it real!

Another Victim: The Craft
of Policing
(#388, 5/29/21)

Ronald Greene died one year before George Floyd. In about the same way.


Let's Stop Pretending
Cops can't correct
what most needs fixing
(#386, 5/3/21)

Four Weeks, Six Massacres
Would stronger gun laws help? We crunch the numbers. They're not reassuring. (#385, 4/19/21)

Two Weeks, Four Massacres
A troubled Colorado man buys a “pistol.” Six days later ten innocents
lie dead.
(#384, 4/4/21)

One Week, Two Massacres
An Atlanta man buys a pistol.
Hours later eight persons lie dead.

(#383, 3/24/21)

The Usual Victims
Violent crime is reportedly way up.
But do we all suffer equally?

(#381, 2/22/21)

A Risky and Informed Decision
Minneapolis P.D. knew better. Yet it
hired an applicant and kept him on.

(#380, 2/8/21)

Want Happy Endings?
Don't Chase.

Pursuits can lead to tragedy
(#379, 1/31/21)

Cop? Terrorist? Both?
Some officers leap into
the arms of "Q"
(#378, 1/20/21)

Chaos in D.C.
Rioters overrun the Capitol.
Are police to blame?
(#377, 1/11/21)

Third, Fourth & Fifth Chances
Some cops repeatedly avoid meaningful sanctions. Then disaster strikes.
(#376, 1/4/21)

Select, Don't "Elect"
When top cops are elected,
controls fly out the window

(#375, 12/19/20)

Was a Dope Roped?
A trial judge thought so.
But an appellate court disagreed.

(#374, 12/8/20)

Fix Those Neighborhoods!
Creating safe places calls for a comprehensive, organic approach
(#373, 11/23/20)

When Must Cops Shoot? (II)
"An Ounce of Prevention"
(Ben Franklin, 1736)

(#372, 11/11/20)

When Must Cops Shoot? (I)
Four notorious incidents; four dead citizens. What did officers face?
(#371, 10/31/20)

L.A. Wants "Cahoots." But Which "Cahoots"?
Some politicians demand that officers keep away from "minor, non-violent" crimes
(#370, 10/21/20)

R.I.P. Proactive Policing?
Volatile situations and imperfect cops guarantee tragic outcomes

(#369, 10/10/20)

Explaining...or Ignoring?
In a badly divided land, the ambush of two deputies unleashes a raft of excuses. And, as usual, no solutions.

(#368, 9/21/20)

White on Black
Should Black citizens fear White cops?
(#367, 9/7/20)

Black on Black
Are Black citizens better off
with Black cops?
(#366, 9/1/20)

"SWAT" is a Verb
Officers join specialized teams for a reason
(#365, 8/16/20)

Should Police Treat the Whole Patient?
Officers deal with the symptoms of social decay. Can they go further? Should they?
(#364, 8/3/20)

Turning Cops Into Liars
Keeping score can distort what
officers do
(#363, 7/20/20)

Violent and Vulnerable
Some combative citizens may be at heightened risk of death
(#362, 7/8/20)

Don't "Divest" - Invest!
Stripping money from the police is foolish. So is ignoring the plight of poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

(#361, 6/26/20)

Is it Ever OK to Shoot Someone in the Back? (II)
In Atlanta, a “routine” encounter turns lethal. Instantly, a deplorable outcome is attributed to race.
(#360, 6/19/20)

Gold Badges Can Be the Problem
Ordinary cops often know what's best. They should act on it.
(#359, 6/8/20)

Punishment Isn't a Cop's Job
An officer metes out discipline. He then faces society's version.
(#358, 6/3/20)

But is it Really Satan?
A Sheriff’s lament reflects the hopelessness of urban decay

(#357, 5/25/20)

A Conflicted Mission
An ideologically-fraught quarrel poses unique challenges
(#356, 5/12/20)

Letting Go
Who should stay locked up during the pandemic? Who can go?
(#355, 5/1/20)

Can the Urban Ship
be Steered?

Seasoned police leadership. Yet the
violence continues.
(#354, 4/21/20)

Taking Missiles From Strangers
One wannabe heads to prison. Another waits. Should we be relieved?

(#353, 4/10/20)

Fair But Firm
Gaining voluntary compliance is the
sine qua non of everyday policing.
Indeed, of everyday life.
(#352, 4/2/20)

When Should Cops Lie?
NYPD detectives tweak an old approach. But lying is still lying.
(#351, 3/26/20)

COVID-19: R.I.P. Policing?
Crime-fighters confront the challenges
of coronavirus
(#350, 3/17/20)

Place Matters
Desperate to avoid controversy, politicians avoid the obvious

(#349, 2/29/20)

Must the Door Revolve?
Bail and sentencing reform come.
Then stuff happens.
(#348, 2/9/20)

A Recipe for Disaster
Take an uncertain workplace. Toss in a "mission impossible" and pressures to produce. Voila!
(#347, 1/24/20)

Loopholes are Lethal (II)
Who can buy a gun? Indeed, just what is a gun? Um, let’s pretend!
(#346, 1/4/20)

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? (II)
Quit blaming police racism for lopsided outcomes. And fix those neighborhoods!
(#344, 12/3/19)

Did the Times Scapegoat L.A.'s Finest?
Accusations of biased policing
derail a stop-and-frisk campaign

(#343, 11/12/19)

Technology's Great -
Until it's Not

Police love Rapid DNA and facial recognition but hate encryption.
Privacy advocates beg to differ.

(#342, 10/18/19)

Means, Ends and 9/11
Extraordinary measures beget extraordinary consequences

(#341, 9/28/19)

Human Renewal
Despite redevelopment, South Bend's poverty and crime remain locked
in an embrace
(#340, 9/13/19)

A Workplace
Without Pity
Doing right by the public might
mean doing wrong to the cop
(#339, 8/27/19)

Going Ballistic
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
(#337, 8/2/19)

Two Sides of
the Same Coin
Street gangs and officer cliques
have a lot in common
(#336, 7/20/19)

Can You Enforce
Without Force?
Decriminalizing illegal immigration would have serious consequences
(#335, 7/1/19)

A Distinction
Without a Difference
An epidemic of officer suicide raises the question: do guns cause violence?
(#334, 6/22/19)

Informed and Lethal
Confirmation bias, on steroids
(#333, 5/5/19)

Mission Impossible?
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)

Keep going...


New essays post regularly:

Main topics

Is the "Cure" Worse than
the "Disease"?
(#387, 5/17/21)

Dem’s push the “George Floyd
Justice in Policing Act”

Hans Toch

April 17, 1930 - June 18, 2021


6/20/21 Responding to the decision by a Boulder judge to invalidate the city’s ban of assault weapons, such as the Ruger AR-556 “pistol” used by Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, a new State statute specifically authorizes cities to enact their own gun laws. So it’s expected that Boulder’s law will be reinstated. Still, Alissa bought the gun in Arvada, where, as in the rest of Colorado, such weapons remain legal. Related posts 1  2

6/19/21 Missouri is the latest of nine States to enact laws this year that “discourage or prohibit” local police from cooperating in the enforcement of Federal gun laws. These restrictions are intended to soften the blow should new Federal laws pass that expand background checks or restrict the kinds of guns one can possess. Whether these pre-emptive rules will hamper the Feds’ ability to trace guns seized by police so as to identify illegal purchases and discover illicit resale channels is as yet unknown. Related posts 1  2

6/18/21 Portland PD’s “Rapid Response Team,” volunteer cops who came together to handle protests, is no more. Its fifty officers left the unit after the D.A. indicted a colleague, officer Corey Budsworth, for misdemeanor assault of a journalist during an August 2020 protest. They remain on patrol. Their chief and the mayor nonetheless thanked the officers for working “long hours under difficult conditions.” Related post

6/17/21 Nearly two-thousand military firearms were “lost or stolen” during the past decade. Many have been used in violent crimes. In 2015 a reservist down on his luck stole ten pistols and six fully automatic rifles from an armory, then resold them on the street.  A decade ago more than two dozen AK-47 type rifles were stolen from a Fresno base by MP’s; some of the guns wound up with a street gang. Related post

When answering 911 calls about persons in mental distress, Montgomery County, Maryland presently teams mental health counselors with police. But it’s trying to “reimagine” things so that civilian teams respond alone. That’s making some experienced counselors nervous. “I’ve been in situations where things change in the course of 30 seconds,” said one. “And that’s why the police are there.” Related post

6/16/21 In a major policy address, A.G. Merrick Garland identified “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, and militia violent extremists” as America’s major domestic terrorism threats. Their access to social media, encrypted communications and firearms poses significant challenges. But DOJ’s enforcement focus will remain on violence, not ideology. “In America, espousing a hateful ideology is not unlawful. We do not investigate individuals for their First Amendment-protected activities.” Related posts 1  2

Chicago experienced two mass shootings in a single day. In the troubled Englewood neighborhood, an argument in a residence was settled with gunfire, leaving four dead and four wounded. Hours later five were wounded, one critically, in an “attack” in the Garfield Park area. Other shootings that day left at least two dead and one wounded. Related posts 1  2

6/15/21 Major-city homicide rates surged by thirty percent in 2020. So far this year they’re up another twenty-four percent. Economic stressors, social unrest, more guns and fewer cops on the street get much of the blame. But the pandemic is credited with lowering rates of rape, robbery and theft, which are supposedly more matters of “opportunity.” Washington Post analysis   Related post

6/14/21 Baton Rouge has reportedly agreed to pay $4.5 million to the family of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police in 2016. A police bodycam video released in 2018 showed an officer “repeatedly shouting profanities at Mr. Sterling, slamming him into a car, ordering another cop to use his Taser and threatening to shoot Mr. Sterling with a gun pointed at his head.” That officer was fired. Related post

6/13/21 Around the U.S., three mass shootings in the span of a few hours left at least twenty-six wounded and two dead. It began in Savannah on Friday evening when the occupants of a passing car fired dozens of rounds at a crowd gathered outside an apartment complex, killing one and wounding six. Early the next morning, a dispute between two persons in an Austin bar district left fourteen wounded, two critically. About the same time, two gunmen opened fire on a small group gathered in a troubled Chicago neighborhood. One person died and six were wounded. Related posts 1  2

6/12/21 A Chicago mother and her 14-year old son were about to relocate from the violence-ridden Lawndale neighborhood where the boy was having trouble with local toughs. But before they could move a shot-spotter alert brought police to a rear porch where the eight-grader lay dead from bullet wounds. He was one of twenty-two fatal gunshot victims under 17 this year; 141 have been shot. Related post

Karol Chwiesiuk, a twenty-nine year old Chicago cop proudly shared a photo of himself wearing a CPD hoodie inside the Capitol office of an Oregon senator. According to a Federal indictment, Chwiesiuk  broke in during the assault, then bragged about it to his buds. His texts cautioned, “don’t snitch.” Capitol special topic  Related post

6/11/21 Six Southern California men and a Texas resident were indicted on Federal conspiracy and other charges for entering restricted areas of the Capitol and encouraging others. Three claimed on social media posts to be members of the Three Percenters. Two others, Alan Hostetter, a former police chief in La Habra, Calif. who became a yoga instructor, and Russell Taylor founded the “American Phoenix” project, which claims the recent Presidential election was stolen and promotes conspiracy theories. Capitol special topic  Related post

Six L.A. County sheriff’s deputies have been charged with felonies during the past five months. On June 4 Deputy Nicole Bell was accused of assaulting a prisoner and destroying video evidence during a street encounter two years ago. In May one deputy was charged with lying about where he found a firearm, another with murder and reckless driving in an off-duty motor vehicle accident, and two others with perjury and filing false reports in a 2018 drug and guns case. And in March a deputy was charged with sexually abusing an underage relative. Related posts 1  2

6/10/21 Advice columnist Amy Dickinson fired things up with a column that encouraged a victim of plant theft to call the cops on the boys responsible. “I cannot believe that you suggested this homeowner should call the police!,” replied another reader. “That advice could get those boys killed!” In response, Amy acknowledged that “many Americans...have lost their faith in the police. I admit to underestimating the magnitude of how afraid many people are of the police, who are supposed to protect them.” Related post

6/9/21 A comprehensive U.S. Senate report, “Examining the U.S. Capitol Attack,” severely criticizes failures by the FBI and DHS, which had abundant intelligence of the insurgents’ intentions, to convey what they knew and to warn about “the potential for violence.” Capitol authorities are faulted for failing to adequately plan for the security of the joint session and for neglecting to train officers and supply them with protective gear. An “opaque” authorization process also caught blame for causing an inexcusable delay in the arrival of National Guard troops. Assault on the Capitol special topic  Related post

6/8/21 During the June 4-7 weekend at least sixty persons were shot in Chicago, including eight in a single incident. Among the wounded were an 11-year old girl and a 15-year old boy. So far six have died. Police commissioner David Brown blamed this year’s lethal surge in gunplay on “gang cultures, revenge, retaliation and street justice.” Related posts 1  2

6/7/21 An NIJ-funded study revealed that persons who were cognitively and physically impaired by marijuana passed blood, urine and oral tests designed to detect pot’s main components. Common field sobriety tests in current use were found equally ineffective. Related posts 1  2

6/6/21 Three days of protests have followed the shooting death of Minneapolis resident Winston Smith, 32 by sheriff’s deputies assigned to a Federal fugitive task force. Smith, who was wanted on Federal charges of being a felon with a gun, allegedly fired on officers as they approached his vehicle. The gun he reportedly used and a spent bullet casing were recovered. There is no bodycam video. Related posts 1  2

6/5/21 Ruling that “no legislature has the constitutional authority to dictate to a good citizen that he or she may not acquire a modern and popular gun for self-defense,” San Diego, Calif. Federal judge Roger Benitez threw out California’s assault-weapons ban, which prohibits semi-automatic rifles that hold more than ten rounds or those that accept external magazines and have features such as a pistol grip. Judge Benitez stayed his ruling for thirty days to allow for an appeal. Miller v. Bonta  Related posts 1  2

6/4/21 How best to check the identities of the “tens of thousands” of asylum-seekers awaiting entry to the U.S.? As part of the solution, DHS has implemented a facial-recognition app. that allows CBP to compare images of would-be entrants to persons already in its database and confirm whether they have officially applied or are part of the subset who may enter despite the COVID-19 policy that’s kept them out. But civil libertarians worry about the app’s security and its potential for error and misuse. Related posts 1  2

6/3/21 After its use to identify and arrest a protester, the D.C. Council of Governments halted the use of NCRFRILS, a facial-recognition system used by D.C.-area law enforcement agencies. Police argued that the system had helped solve robberies and other crimes, but civil libertarians cited its potential to wrongly identify women and minorities. In Virginia, police use of Clearview AI spurred a new State law that requires pre-approval before any facial recognition system can be used in the future. Related post

Sentencing memoranda were filed by the prosecution and defense in the case against Derek Chauvin, the officer convicted of murdering George Floyd. Prosecutors asked for thirty years, while the defense moved for a far lesser term, preferably time served and probation.

6/1/21 “It makes me angry because the crime they are seeing in Buckhead is the same crime we on the Southside have been dealing with for years.” That’s how one highly miffed Atlantan reacted to a move by residents of a pricey residential area to form their own city because a recent spate of thefts and shootings have shattered its tranquility and made it feel like it was one of Atlanta’s many poor neighborhoods. Related post

5/31/21 Early Sunday morning, May 30, a crowd leaving a Miami- Dade County music hall after the release of a rap album was ambushed by three masked gunmen who had been waiting outside in their vehicle. Wearing “ski masks and hoodies” and wielding semi-automatic rifles and handguns, they unleashed a barrage of fire that killed two and wounded at least twenty. Related posts 1  2

5/29/21 A Democratic-led move to create a “January 6” commission of inquiry on the Capitol riot passed the House but failed by six votes to gather a filibuster -proof sixty votes in the Senate. Only six Republican senators voted “yea”; five of them had also supported impeaching ex-President Trump. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) called a special commission “extraneous” because DOJ and congressional committees are already looking into the siege. Assault on the Capitol special topic Related post

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a farmwoker illegally in the U.S., was convicted of murdering U of Iowa student Mollie Tibbets in July 2018. He was arrested the following month driving a car that matched a vehicle that had stalked Tibbetts while she jogged. Rivera blamed the killing on “two masked men” who forced him to help dispose of her body. (See 8/21/18 entry.) Related post

Responding to Kevin Cooper’s claim of innocence, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed a law firm to head an “independent investigation” into his conviction and report their findings to the parole board. His action was spurred, in part, by prosecutors’ claims that new DNA evidence confirms Cooper’s guilt, a conclusion that Cooper’s lawyers vigorously reject. Related post

“Skyrocketing” violence has led Chicago Mayor Lightfoot and Chief Brown to implement “smart policing” strategies in sixteen high-crime neighborhoods. Police will provide extra resources for these areas and officers will coordinate their efforts with local groups and “violence interrupters.” Officers are strongly objecting to twelve-hour shifts and canceled days off, but with a 22 percent rise in homicides and nearly fifty persons shot last weekend alone, Chief Brown said there is little other choice. Related post

New information reveals that San Jose mass shooter Samuel Cassidy fired thirty-nine shots during his rampage. He was armed with three 9mm. pistols and carried thirty-two high-capacity pistol magazines. “Highly disgruntled” with his job situation and facing possible discipline, he apparently targeted co-workers whom he did not like. A search of his home revealed twelve additional firearms, twenty-five thousand rounds of ammunition, gasoline cans and suspected molotov cocktails. Related posts 1  2

5/28/21 On March 3, 2020 Manuel Ellis, a 33-year old Black man, died after being forcefully subdued by three Tacoma, Washington police officers who encountered him on the street. Although passers-by said that Ellis was respectful and didn’t resist, officers used a chokehold and a Taser and ignored Mr. Ellis’ pleas that he couldn’t breathe. Police said they moved in because Mr. Ellis, a former resident of a sober-living facility, was “in the middle of an intersection, hassling a passing car.” On May 27 State police arrested the officers: Matthew Collins, 38, and Christopher Burbank, 35, for 2nd. degree murder and 1st. degree manslaughter, and Timothy Rankine, 32, for first-degree manslaughter. Related post

5/27/21 On May 26 a disgruntled San Jose, Calif. railyard employee reportedly armed with “two semiautomatic pistols and 11 magazines of handgun ammunition” opened fire on his early morning work shift, killing nine co-workers. Samuel James Cassidy, 57, then committed suicide. His long-estranged wife said he had a “mercurial temper,” while a girlfriend accused him of rape and alcohol-induced “mood swings” when they exchanged restraining orders several years ago. Cassidy, who apparently set fire to his home before going to work, was described as “lonely and “strange” by a neighbor. There is no indication that Cassidy was either prohibited from having guns or was subject to any weapons prohibitions. Gun Massacres special section  Related posts 1  2

5/26/21 Chicago PD issued a foot pursuit policy inspired by the death of Adam Toledo. Among other things, it restricts them to, at a minimum, serious misdemeanors, and to situations where an officer has probable cause to arrest or believes a crime was or is being committed. Officers must consider alternatives such as surveillance and containment and avoid visually separating from their colleagues. Related posts 1  2

An 86-year old resident of the violence-ridden Garfield Park area – it had the “highest homicide rate, lowest life expectancy” of any Chicago neighborhood in 2014 – is struggling to decide whether to leave her home of five decades. She was tending to her lawn when dozens of gunshots rang out, and one round grazed her foot. Her son has long urged the widowed grandma to move, but “everywhere I look there are memories; this is why I cherish the house.” Related post

5/25/21 In 2020 murders in L.A. surged 36 percent, reaching a decade-high 305. Police Chief Michel Moore attributes the spike to gang violence, the “despair and dislocation” of COVID, and the elimination of cash bail, which quickly put violent persons back on the streets: “When those gun arrests are not going to court...zero bail, court trials being deferred... there’s a sense [of] a lack of consequences.” Defunding the police has been replaced by a drive to replenish the ranks. Stop-and-frisk is back in South L.A., where a team is waging a careful, targeted campaign. Related posts 1  2  3  4

Trial of Derek Chauvin
Weeks: 1   2   3   4   Verdict   Post-trial

Slugging it Out
Before the Fight

Pretrial evidentiary battles
give the State an edge
(#382, 3/16/21)

Punishment Isn't a Cop's Job
An officer metes out discipline. He then faces society's version. (#358, 6/3/20)


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