Police Issues

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...


12/3/20 California’s illegal diversion of COVID-19 unemployment funds to prisoners has reportedly reached $400 million. It was facilitated by state law that forbids cross- checking social security numbers against criminal justice (prison) records. Investigators allegedly discovered the scam by accident as they routinely monitored inmate telephone calls. Related post

On October 23 two San Bernardino (Calif.) deputies observed Joseph McLaughlin, 31 at a casino. They recognized him as a wanted parolee who did prison time for burglaries. McLaughlin ran off, and during a foot chase in hilly terrain he picked up a rock as to throw it at a deputy. The officer opened fire, striking McLaughlin him three times, in the shoulders and forearm. Questions have been raised as to whether deputies could have used other means and whether the shooting met the legal standard of “imminent threat of serious bodily injury” under P.C. section 835a.  Video depicting full encounter Related posts 1 2

12/2/20 A Chicago police sergeant and three officers had appealed their firing for allegedly covering up the actions of officer Jason Van Dyke, who was convicted of murdering Laquan McDonald. A judge recently upheld the discharge of Sgt. Stephen Frank and officer Daphne Sebastian for misleading investigators with “false statements or reports.” Decisions about the other two officers are pending. Related post

In U.S. v Folajtar, the 3rd. Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that even non-violent felony convictions, such as for felony tax fraud, disqualify persons from possessing a gun. Their opinion quoted D.C. v. Heller (2008), a Supreme Court decision that rejected an outright ban on guns in the home but endorsed “prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons.” What kind of felon was never settled, and Ms. Folajtar is expected to appeal the Circuit’s decision to a more conservative Supreme Court. Related post

12/1/20 NYPD’s Independent Monitor just released its eleventh report. Federal monitoring was imposed in 2013 to reform NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk. There were 11,238 stops in 2018 and 12,958 in 2019, with the increase most likely due to better reporting. Of the 310 most recent stops reviewed by the monitor (2019 4th. Quarter), 121 led to a frisk and 116 to a search. Reasonable suspicion and/or justification was articulated for 74% of stops, 85% of frisks and 87% of searches. (Report, pg. 12) Stop-and-Frisk special topic Related posts 1 2 3

11/29/20 In response to objections by activists who demand police keep away from responses to mentally troubled persons, Chicago will be deploying two kinds of crisis intervention teams in 2021. One will, as previously planned, include two experts and one officer. But the city will also deploy teams of “clinicians and paramedics” modeled after “Cahoots” that do not include police. Both approaches will be implemented next year. Related post

11/26/20 Breonna Taylor’s death is leading to a tightening of no-knock policies elsewhere. In Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed, new rules require that officers yell “ police” and “search warrant” even when “no-knock” has been authorized. To go further requires approval of the police chief and an extreme situation, such as the rescue of a hostage. Related posts 1 2

11/25/20 On January 11, 2020 an LAPD Sergeant responding to 9-1-1 calls about a man “waving” a gun spotted Victor Valencia, 31, holding what seemed to be a handgun. When Valencia pointed it at him the officer shot Valencia dead. His object turned out to be a bicycle part, which a witness to the encounter said looked like a gun. Valencia reportedly suffered from depression and was mentally ill. On November 24 the Sergeant’s actions were ruled justified. LAPD account   Mentally ill subtopic
Related posts 1 2

A new DOJ evaluation of Oakland’s implementation of Project Ceasefire during 2010-2017 rates it as effective in reducing the frequency of gang shootings. Comparing matched blocks, Ceasefire areas had 23 percent fewer shooting victimizations that non-Ceasefire areas. Ceasefire sites received “special enforcement attention” from joint Federal-local police strike teams and direct intervention from gang workers who offered “services and opportunities” to help gang members desist. Oakland city site Related posts 1 2

11/24/20 As drug overdoses rise throughout the U.S. during the pandemic, Oregon may be hard-pressed to provide the treatment mandated by its first-in-the-Nation measure that decriminalizes the possession of small quantities of hard drugs. Some also worry that the State’s drug users will now be less motivated to sober up. But supporters of the measure counter that making drugs illegal never helped. Related post

State and Federal investigators allege that “more than $140 million” in pandemic unemployment benefits have been fraudulently paid to California prisoners, including occupants of death row. Families, friends and street gangs are accused of co-ordinating with inmates to have cash cards sent to external addresses. Proceeds are shared, with some deposited in inmate prison accounts. Related post

11/23/20 Three years ago rookie SFPD officer Christopher Samayoa was just four days out of the academy when a suspect who forcibly carjacked a state lottery van and pushed its driver to the ground ran by his squad car at the end of a vehicular pursuit. He had nothing in his hands and was unarmed but Officer Samayoa shot him dead. Samayoa was fired a year later. Today, just as the statute of limitations was set to expire, San Francisco’s progressive new D.A., Chesa Boudin, charged the ex-cop with manslaughter, assault with a firearm, reckless discharge of a firearm and unlawful assault by an officer. Related posts 1 2

11/22/20 In Sept. 2017 Chicago courts facilitated pre-trial release by eliminating or reducing bail. In six months 500 additional defendants were released (9,200 instead of 8,700). A study revealed that those released after the change were slightly more likely to FTA but equally likely to reoffend (17 percent) as those released under the old guidelines. Overall Chicago crime rates did not change. Related posts 1 2 3
Bail reform subtopic

11/20/20 Mexico is being flooded with .50 caliber sniper rifles and assault weapons trafficked from the U.S.,  where straw buyers acquire them from private persons and at retail. Mexican officials are pleading with the U.S. to strengthen its gun laws and demand background checks for all gun transfers, including private party sales at gun shows, but America’s political climate makes that unlikely. According to an ATF agent, “we have to charge [traffickers] with what is basically a paperwork violation. We don’t really have a big charge to hang over them.” Related post

11/18/20 In September 2012 FBI agents arrested Hillside (Ill.) resident Adel Daoud, 18, after he parked a car they delivered in front of a bar, then from a distance pressed a trigger that would supposedly detonate an inert bomb. Undercover agents had contacted Daoud months earlier after he posted messages indicating that he wished to commit terrorism, and they met repeatedly to hatch the plot. Daoud was initially found mentally unfit for trial and was committed. He ultimately pled guilty in November 2018 to the attempt and, while imprisoned, to attacking another inmate and soliciting the murder of the undercover agent. Noting Daoud’s extensive manipulation, his clear mental issues, and his improvement under medication, a Federal judge sentenced him to sixteen years. That sentence was appealed by the Government as being far too short. On November 17, 2020, a Federal appellate court agreed and ordered Daoud resentenced. Related posts 1 2 3 4 5

This year’s surge in gun sales has led to concerns about a corresponding surge in suicide. Firearms are a sure means of killing oneself, and account for more than half of America’s suicides. Suicide is also the predominant cause of gun deaths, with crimes and accidents accounting for about one-third. Related posts 1 2

On motion of the prosecutor, courts vacated an additional 108 drug convictions tied to analysis by disgraced former Massachusetts state lab chemist Annie Dookhan. “Dozens” more cases in which defendants pled guilty before learning the results of lab analysis are also on the chopping block. Related post

LAPD has officially prohibited the use of any facial recognition database for generating investigative leads other than Los Angeles County’s “Regional Identification System” system. This move follows on a Buzzfeed news article that reported LAPD detectives were frequently turning to a commercial system, Clearview AI, which “scrapes” images from the Internet, including social media. Civil liberties advocates have condemned its use because of concerns about privacy and accuracy. Related post

11/17/20 A new LAPD policy requires that officers who seek to perform consent searches must either gain permission in writing or verbally on bodycam video. Officers must also explain, among other things, why they wish to search and what they seek to find, and after searching, describe what they found. Related posts 1 2

Beset by troubling encounters between police and persons in mental distress, Chicago is considering deploying CIT teams that include two experts and one officer. But objections have been raised as to why cops should be included at all. “I think it’s an emergency to get police out of the mental health response” said an Alderman. A mother whose mentally ill daughter was recently Tasered agrees. But she also wants “a health care system that supports people before they are in crisis.” 1 2 3

11/15/20 An NPR report claims that “crisis intervention teams are failing.” Problems are attributed to response models that include clinical workers but are nonetheless managed by police, who consider persons in crisis as inherently dangerous. “Cahoots” is identified as an approach that helps debunk that notion. CIT’s are also “no replacement for an adequate mental health care system in a community.” Related posts 1 2 3

11/14/20 Young non-violent arrestees who reside In Chicago’s poor, violence-stricken North Lawndale neighborhood can opt out of the criminal justice system and be processed, instead, by a “restorative justice” court comprised of area residents. “Repair of harm agreements” include assignment to job training, drug treatment and counseling. Since 2017, none of the 63 who successfully completed the full program have been rearrested. Related posts 1 2 3

A surge of robberies, shootings and killings after George Floyd’s death has beset Minneapolis, and particularly its poverty-stricken North side. Citywide, murder is up fifty percent and more than 500 have been shot, twice the number last year. But police coverage is down as waves of officers go on sick leave or resign. Some temporary officers are being hired but no solution is in sight. One resident complains of living in a state of war as politicians “embark on a campaign against your own police department, fighting and demonizing an entire internal city organization instead of making it better.” Related post

11/13/20 The Los Angeles County Coroner will conduct a rare, full inquest into the shooting death of Andres Guardado on June 18 by deputies who were allegedly “prospective members” of the “Executioners” deputy clique. Deputies claim that they ran after Guardado after observing that he was armed and that he reached for the gun when he came to a stop. Related posts 1 2

Lawsuits alleging deputy misconduct have led L.A. County to pay out over $149 million in damages during the last five years. With two years left in his term, Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s alleged refusal to implement correctives and bring his deputies under control has led County Supervisors to explore his removal, either by impeachment or through changes in State law. But the Democratic Party, which endorsed Villanueva’s election, recently failed to pass a resolution endorsing his ouster. Related posts 1 2 3

11/12/20 Prosecutors dismissed charges of third-degree sexual assault and criminal trespass against Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot and crippled on August 23 by a White Kenosha police officer. In exchange, Mr. Blake pled guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct. His alleged sexual assault victim, who had called police, was reportedly “not cooperating” with prosecutors. Related post

One year ago a 16-year old Southern California high school student shot and killed two classmates with an unregulated, unserialized .45 cal. pistol that was built from an “80-percent” frame. He then shot himself in the head. A recent lawsuit filed by the Giffords law Center, the victims’ parents and the State of California demands that ATF revise its definition of “firearm” to include these parts. Related post

11/10/20 LAPD’s union reported that “nearly 9 out of 10” of 2,700 officers who participated in a recent survey didn’t feel supported by Chief Michel Moore and “did not believe he or other commanders provided strong leadership during recent protests and unrest.” Nearly forty percent indicated they were considering resigning. Chief Moore, who reportedly enjoys strong support from the city’s leadership team, acknowledged their views and vowed to do better. Related post

11/8/20 LAPD will implement its $150 million budget cut by reducing its sworn force from 10,110 positions to 9,752 and shifting 234 officers from specialized units into patrol. Reductions will hit the Metropolitan division, other detective units and the air wing. In line with the agency’s reformist orientation, its newly-established “Community Safety Partnership” will not be affected. Concerns about violence remain, with murders up 25 percent and set to exceed 300 for the first time since 2009. Related posts 1 2

Interviews by the New York Times revealed split opinions between Blacks and Whites about the protests sparked by police use of force against minorities. Blacks generally viewed the demonstrations as reflective of their everyday concerns while many Whites expressed anxiety about the impact of the disorder on their communities. Related posts 1 2

11/6/20 Despite Joe Biden’s apparent victory, the Dem’s lost seats in the House. Why? Some moderate Dem’s “who lost, or nearly did,” blamed progressives for championing “defunding the police” and “banning fracking.” Abigail Spanberger, a Viginia Dem who barely squeaked through, warned that if “defunding police” and socialism weren’t dumped, the Blues “would be ‘crushed’ in future elections.” Related post

11/5/20 Progressive fears that eliminating cash bail “would automate racial profiling, give unchecked power to judges and increase funding and power for corrupt probation departments” led voters to reject California Proposition 25, which would have based release decisions on judicial evaluations of public safety and flight risk. Related post

With residents of Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana voting “yes!” fifteen states now allow marijuana’s recreational use, and 36 permit its medical use. Meanwhile Oregon became the first state to partly decriminalize hard drugs, giving persons caught with single-user amounts of heroin, meth and other substances the option to pay a $100 non-criminal fine and enroll in drug treatment. Related posts 1 2 3 4

11/4/20 A national exit poll of approx. 16,000 voters about five issues: racial inequality, the pandemic, the economy, crime and safety, and health care revealed that, for those for whom “crime and safety” mattered the most, 71 percent voted for President Trump and 28 percent for Joe Biden. Trump’s supporters made up 83 percent of those who felt that the CJ system treats everyone fairly, and 17 percent of those who felt that it treats Blacks unfairly. Related post

11/3/20 Early releases have plagued Europe’s fight against extremism. Yesterday evening a terrorist armed with an assault rifle unleashed a fusillade of gunfire in Vienna, Austria, killing four and injuring fourteen, six critically. Kujtim Fejzulai, 20, had been sentenced to 22 months last year for trying to join the Islamic state but was granted an early release. In London, a terrorist who was granted early release in 2018 after his conviction in a bomb plot went on a stabbing rampage in London the very next year, killing two before police shot him dead. Related posts 1 2

11/2/20 Just released: National Consortium on Preventing Law Enforcement Suicide Final Report. Related post

Last November Chicago authorities charged Juan Torkelson with first-degree murder and attempted murder for stabbing one person dead and wounding two others. He was on the loose until May when a police fugitive team found him. But he was released on $10,000 bond and placed on home detention because of the coronavirus. On October 28 Torkelson pulled a gun on Ohio deputies who stopped him for traffic violations. They took cover and he fled. His whereabouts are unknown. Related posts 1 2

11/1/20 Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, an Illinois youth, took an assault rifle bought for him by an eighteen-year old friend to a security gig they performed for a Kenosha, Wisconsin business during the protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. He has now been extradited to Wisconsin on charges of using that gun to kill two protesters and wound a third who allegedly chased and threatened him. Related post


Three (In?)explicable Shootings
Grievous police blunders keep costing citizen lives. Why?

Location, Location, Location
Crime happens. To find out why,
look to where.

A Stitch in Time
Could early intervention save
officer and citizen lives?

Speed Kills
Acting swiftly can save lives.
And take them, too.

De-Escalation: Cure, Buzzword or a Bit of Both?
As bad shootings dominate the headlines, cops and politicians scramble for answers

America, Gun Purveyor to the Cartels
Enforcing the weak-kneed laws that exist is no solution

The Bail Conundrum
Bail obviously disadvantages the poor. What are the alternatives?

Written, Produced and Directed
A disturbing legacy of roping in dopes, with no end in sight

First, Do No Harm
Just how intrusive should patrol be?

Ideology Trumps Reason
Clashing belief systems challenge criminal justice policymaking


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

To Err is Human,
to Prevent is Divine

Admitting that cops make mistakes
can prevent tragedies

Homeless, Mentally Ill, Dead
Officers may have beat a mentally ill man to death. But we all share in the blame.


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


Punishment Isn't a Cop's Job
An officer metes out discipline. He then faces society's version.

A Conflicted Mission
An ideologically-fraught quarrel poses unique challenges

Letting Go
Who should stay locked up during the pandemic? Who can go?

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


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