Police Issues

Thought-provoking essays on crime, justice and policing

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What's That?

(#448, 4/27/24)

Philadelphia's D.A.
eased up on lawbreakers.
Did it increase crime?

Ideology (Still)
Trumps Reason

(#447, 4/9/24)

When it comes to gun laws,
“Red” and “Blue” remain
in the driver’s seat

Shutting the Barn Door
(#446, 3/19/24)

Oregon moves to
re-criminalize hard drugs

Houston, We Have
(Another) Problem

(#445, 2/28/24)

Fueled by assault rifles, murders plague the land

Wrong Place, Wrong
Time, Wrong Cop

(#444, 2/8/24)

Recent exonerees set "records"
for wrongful imprisonment

America's Violence-
Beset Capital City

(#443, 1/20/24)

Our Nation's capital
is plagued by murder

Are Civilians Too Easy
on the Police? (II)

(#442, 12/18/23)

Exonerated of murder,
but not yet done

Warning: (Frail)
Humans at Work

(#441, 11/29/23)

The presence of a gun
can prove lethal

See No Evil - Hear No
Evil - Speak No Evil

(#440, 11/14/23)

Is the violent crime problem
really all in our heads?

Policing Can't Fix
What Really Ails

(#439, 10/18/23)

California's posturing
overlooks a chronic issue

Confirmation Bias
Can be Lethal

(#438, 9/21/23)

Why did a "routine" stop
cost a man's life?

When (Very) Hard
Heads Collide (II)

(#437, 9/5/23)

What should cops do when
miscreants refuse to comply?
Refuse to comply?

What Cops Face
(#436, 8/24/23)

America’s violent atmosphere
can distort officer decisions

Punishment Isn't
a Cop's Job (III)

(#435, 8/1/23)

Some citizens misbehave;
some cops answer in kind

San Antonio

(#434, 7/20/23)

What poverty brings can
impair the quality of policing

Keep going...






5/24/24 Police agencies around the U.S. currently deploy drones for various purposes. In California, the Chula Vista Police Dept. began using drones for 9-1-1 calls in 2018, and their ability to arrive quickly and livestream potentially crucial video proved to be of great benefit. A new firm, Brinc, now offers purpose-built 9-1-1 drones as part of a full- service, contractual arrangement that “starts in the low tens of thousands and can run into the millions of dollars.” Its model will soon be tested by Hawthorne police. Related post

D.C.’s violent crime problem has led to a “surge” of Federal law enforcement attention. DEA agents are targeting the traffickers that supply and the heavily armed gangs that establish and defend  open-air drug markets which supply fentanyl, crack cocaine and heroin to all comers. Dozens of violent crimes and numerous “bursts of gunfire” in a chronically beset neighborhood just led to the arrest of nine members of a drug trafficking crew who were dealing in drugs that originated in Trinidad. This case led to the execution of fourteen search warrants which yielded large sums of cash and numerous weapons. Related post

5/23/24 Neighbor accounts and photos reveal that last summer an “Appeal to Heaven” flag graced the Long Beach Island, NY summer home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito and his wife. Carried by the January 6 rioters who stormed the Capitol, it symbolizes “a theological vision of what the United States should be and how it should be governed.” It’s also been prominently displayed by a “Stop the Steal” leader and by Rep. Mike Johnson, the (Red) Speaker of the House of Representatives. Related post

Signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, a “Red”, on April 30, Oklahoma HB 4156 criminalizes as “impermissible occupation” the presence in the State of persons who illegally entered the U.S., and those who have been excluded but failed to leave. First offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine or jailing for up to one year. A second offense is a felony. And that’s occasioned a lawsuit by the Justice Dept., which challenges the law as intruding into a matter of exclusively Federal jurisdiction. Oklahoma bill   Immigration updates   Related post

LAPD says that their three-hour delay in moving into a student encampment that was under violent attack by counter-demonstrators was caused by a lack of advance notice from then-UCLA police chief John Thomas. So it took that long to assemble a sufficient number of officers to safely move in. According to university administrators, then-Chief Thomas had been told to make a detailed plan for police response in case trouble broke out. But he didn’t. So he’s been removed. Related post

5/22/24 Why has violent crime surged in Columbus? A deep-dive by the New York Times suggests that a proliferation of guns and Ohio’s easing on gun laws - it lifted a ban on high-capacity magazines and allowed handgun carry without a permit - contributed to the chaos. As guns proliferated and shootings mounted Columbus sought to pass its own gun restrictions, but the State said “no”. And neighborhoods already plagued by violence got worse. Related post

According to an academic review of national surveys of drug use, self-reported marijuana use has increased as cannabis laws have become more permissive. What’s more, its frequency of use now surpasses that of alcohol. While the “median” drinker reported consuming liquor 4-5 days per month, the median pot user reported using marijuana 15-16 days per month. Daily or “near daily” use was reported by 42.3% of marijuana users and 10.9% of drinkers; “daily” use is 28.2% for cannabis and 3.8% for liquor. Drug legalization updates   Related post

5/21/24 Acting on a lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General, a Texas-based Federal judge enjoined ATF from enforcing, within Texas, a recently-enacted Federal rule that expands who must be Federally licensed to deal in guns. According to the rule, it includes persons who transact in guns, including stolen guns, on an irregular or part-time basis, use “any medium of exchange”, including drugs, and conduct their activities at any venue, including gun shows and the Internet. ATF rule (89 FR 28968) Related posts
1   2

The Administration’s move to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III, which would permit its use for medical purposes, reportedly bypassed DEA, whose leadership and staff remain highly skeptical. And a new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that marijuana’s legalization in Canada led to a substantial increase in medical emergencies for older adults who were poisoned through the consumption of cannabis edibles. Drug legalization updates   Related post

CODIS, the FBI’s national DNA database, has about 22 million profiles derived from DNA samples routinely taken by local, State and Federal agencies from criminal offenders. It’s the “go-to” place for identifying perpetrators using crime scene DNA. And since 2020, immigration agents have been sending in cheek swabs from nearly every non-citizen they detain. These submissions, which could rise to as many as 748,000 per year, must be DNA-typed along with those of ordinary arrestees. And that’s led the FBI to ask for major new resources to deal with the backlog. FBI fact sheet   Related post

5/20/24 A Federal judge has enjoined L.A.-area ICE agents from conducting so-called “knock-and-talks” to arrest immigrants for whom they only have administrative warrants. According to Judge Otis D. Wright II, the 4th. Amendment prohibits law enforcement officers who lack a judicially-issued warrant from entering the curtilage (i.e., porch, patio) of a residence if they intend to make an arrest. At present, ICE officers routinely do so, but often pretend all they have in mind is to chat. Judicial decision   Immigration updates   Related post

Last year, former US Army Sgt. Daniel Perry drew a 25-year prison term for fatally shooting Garrett Foster. In 2020 Perry was working as a ride-share driver Austin when he encountered a pro-Floyd demonstration. He opened fire when Mr. Foster, who was one of the participants, allegedly raised his rifle. Acting on a parole board recommendation, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott just pardoned Perry, releasing him from prison and restoring his gun rights. A strong gun-rights proponent, Gov. Abbott said that Texas’ stand-your-ground law “cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive district attorney.” Related post

In a bristling editorial, the Chicago Tribune condemned a move by progressive D.A. Kim Foxx, who is not standing for reelection, to reject drug and gun cases generated through traffic stops. After all, most of those stopped are persons of color, and few arrests are made. But the Tribune’s editors emphasize that it’s precisely the residents of neighborhoods of color who are most impacted by guns on the street. “If officers are effectively prohibited from looking for these weapons, more people will die.” Related posts 1   2

Thanks to facial recognition matches by Leander, TX police, two men are awaiting trial on separate cases of assault with a knife and armed robbery. Those crimes were committed in Austin, but its police are prohibited (as are cops in many other cities, including San Francisco) from using facial recognition technology to find suspects because of issues with racial bias and accuracy. Of course, asking Leander to help broke the rules, and some Austin cops may be in a pickle. As are two suspects. Related post

A commercial website, ffl123.com, helps private persons set up licensed gun businesses at home. And even, if they wish, to become licensed gun manufacturers. According to ATF, there were more than eighteen-thousand such licensees in 2022. Licensed gun dealers and gun manufacturers have phenomenal privileges. Personnel constraints leave them largely unsupervised. According to ffl123.com, ATF inspectors will visit once every twenty years. In FY 2021 ATF inspected five percent (6,643) of its 134,516 licensees (dealers, makers and importers.) “Less than one percent” had their licenses revoked. Related posts 1   2

5/17/24 Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. insists that he had nothing to do with the upside-down flag that was displayed in front of his house for several days preceding President Biden’s inauguration. Instead, the so-called “Stop the Steal” flag was placed there by his wife, who objected to a neighbor’s sign that referred to Donald Trump with an expletive. But “judicial experts” interviewed by the New York Times insist that the flag violated ethics rules. Justice Alito is regarded as the Court’s second-most conservative member (Justice Clarence Thomas comes in first.) Related post

Faced with an “overwhelmed immigration system” that can take years to process asylum claims, the Justice Department has announced a new process that more promptly removes “individuals who do not qualify for relief.” Single non-citizen adults whose claims “are ready to be resolved promptly” will be placed on an expedited docket, and immigration judges will render final decisions within 180 days. A rule to that effect will be published in the Federal Register. Immigration updates   Related post

Illinois requires that would-be gun owners get an FOID card, which confirms they are eligible to have a gun. But authorities have not checked on more than eighty-thousand card holders who had their rights revoked due to a felony conviction, mental health issue or other serious reason. Police are supposed to take their cards and insure they don’t have guns. Illinois has provided some funding for revocation teams, but resources  are lacking. Meanwhile gun misuse by revoked card holders continues. Related post

Police throughout the U.S. sell seized guns and used duty weapons to dealers, auction houses and their own officers. Ninety percent of agencies (n=145) that were contacted by reporters confirmed that they had resold firearms. Records of 67 agencies reveal that they resold over 87,000 guns during the last twenty years. Some police guns also get stolen. Since 2006, more than fifty-thousand firearms that were once in police custody were recovered from crimes. ATF gun trace report   Related post

5/16/24 A deep-dive by the New York Times into fatal shootings across the U.S. revealed substantially higher percentages during the pandemic years in the percentage of city residents who live within a quarter-mile of at least one killing. In large cities, the proportion rose from 31% during 2016-19 to 38% during 2020-2023. Cities with traditionally high rates of violence experienced the largest gains. In Atlanta the increase was from 36% to 58%; in Columbus, from 28% to 41%. Throughout, the residents of poorer neighborhoods were the most substantially affected. Related posts 1   2

Chicago man Gerald Reed did thirty years for killing two men in 1990. But in 2021 Illinois’ Governor commuted his sentence due to concerns that Reed’s confession was extracted through torture ordered by notorious one-time Chicago PD Commander Jon Burge. Reed was released. But although he couldn’t be sent back to prison for the murders, he was just retried. And a jury found him innocent. Still, he remains locked up. Reed committed a robbery in Indiana soon after he was freed the first time. That got him ten years, a term that he’s still serving. His lawyer, though, warns that a lawsuit is coming. Related post

With 37,370 arrests in April, San Diego County has become the most popular spot for migrants to illegally enter the U.S. Eighty percent aren’t from the usual places, Mexico and Central America. Instead, they came from more faraway lands, ranging from Colombia and Ecuador to Turkey and, in especially large numbers, China. Texas used to be a favorite entry point, but crackdowns in Mexico, plus the lone star state’s hostility to migrants, apparently shifted things West, to Tucson and San Diego. Immigration updates   Related post

5/15/24 According to the FBI’s just- released LEOKA report, 60 law enforcement officers were feloniously slain in 2023. That’s one fewer than in 2022, when 61 were killed, and 13 less than in 2021, when 73 fell victim. But the overall toll was the highest of any three year period in the last 20 years. Ten-year highs were reached in 2023 in two other rates: officers assaulted and injured (but not killed) with guns, and assaulted by any means. Of the latter, most involved responses to simple assaults on citizens, followed by drug violations. Related post

As part of a greater effort to deal with a burgeoning opioid problem and encourage users to seek treatment, in January 2023 British Columbia decriminalized the public possession and use of small quantities of hard drugs. That apparently caused open drug use to spread to previously unaffected neighborhoods, but police no longer had the legal means to respond. So while the possession of small quantities of hard drugs remains legal, their use in public was just re-criminalized. Activists, though, fear that penalizing users and driving them back into the shadows is precisely the wrong approach. Drug legalization updates   Related post

5/14/24 “Dressed in black and armed with a rifle,” a 16-year old male teen walked into an Abbeville, Louisiana Catholic church on Sunday morning, May 12, during a First Communion Mass for sixty children. Parishioners promptly grabbed the youth and held him for police. He was charged with “terrorizing” and underage gun possession and taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation. Related post

A detailed AP inquiry into 1,036 deaths of unarmed citizens who tangled with police during a ten -year period revealed that officers breached three or more guidelines in 45% of the cases. And in “about half,” medical reports indicated police “caused or contributed” to the deaths. A majority of the fatalities - 740 - involved citizens being pinned to the ground, face down, and often with considerable force. Of these, more than a third involved drugs or alcohol. AP database   Related post

5/13/24 In January then-LAPD Chief Michel Moore touted a 17 percent reduction in Los Angeles homicides, from 392 in 2022 to 327 in 2023. Robberies and nonfatal shootings were also down, and reported violent crime fell three percent. But according to LAPD’s 2023 use of force year-end review, officer-involved shootings (OIS) increased, going from 31 to 34, and major (“categorical”) uses of force increased from 53 to 70. And while five fewer suspects in 2023 OIS incidents were armed with guns, eleven more were armed with other weapons. LAPD report   Related post

Two Fontana, Calif. police officers pulled over Alan Metka for a traffic infraction. During what began as a casual interaction Metka, a large man, suddenly placed the female officer in a headlock. Her partner then shot Metka, who had a pistol in his pocket. Metka survived. He reportedly has “an extensive criminal history.” We confirmed through San Bernardino county court that in 2021 Metka pled guilty to felony possession of a destructive device (carjacking and assault charges were dismissed.) He apparently drew a brief jail term and was placed on probation. Related post

Stolen guns are often used to commit violent crimes. So where do they come from? A recent study reveals that more than half of guns stolen in 2022 came from cars. That’s a steep increase from a decade earlier, when vehicle thefts were the source for one in four stolen guns. Most vehicles are parked at residences when thieves strike. Memphis endured the highest rate of these thefts in 2022, when three-thousand guns were stolen from cars. Related post

5/10/24 DOJ is contesting a law recently enacted by Iowa that prohibits the presence of persons who have been legally excluded from the U.S. and requires judges to expel them. According to a Federal lawsuit, Iowa’s law, which Governor Kim Reynolds signed on April 10, “impedes the federal government’s ability to enforce entry and removal provisions of federal law and interferes with its conduct of foreign relations.”  Iowa bill  Immigration updates   Related post

An Okaloosa County, Fla. deputy shot and killed an off-duty airman who answered his apartment door while armed with a gun. The deputy was responding to a complaint of a “disturbance in progress,” and when he arrived at the complex a woman told him that the situation in unit 1401 was “getting out of hand.” Airman Roger Fortson came to the door holding a handgun, but it was supposedly pointed at the ground. He was ordered to drop the gun, then was quickly shot. His family’s lawyers claim that the deputy was at the wrong apartment, but the Sheriff denies it. Bodycam video
Related post

5/9/24 Police are identifying student protesters, putting names to faces, through the same techniques that landed many Capitol rioters in jail. A.I. is being used to compare facial images from neighborhood and school security cameras and officer bodycams to existing photos that are present online. Videos are also being scanned for license plates of vehicles that may have been involved. And police hope that citizens will tip them off about the identities of some of the violent protesters, particularly those who wore masks, from videos that were posted online. Related post

Concerns that Houston police shut down thousands of investigations because of insufficient resources apparently prompted Chief Troy Finner’s sudden retirement. In February he announced that 4,000-plus inactive sexual assault cases were being re-examined. Most were soon closed, but eighty with DNA hits remain open. It’s not a recent problem, or only with sex assaults. In 2018, before he was Chief, he had blamed “lack of personnel” for ignoring a “road rage report”. But the Mayor said that the issue had become overly distracting, and he agreed it was time for the Chief to leave. Related post

Ex-Memphis cop Patric J. Ferguson and a civilian are pending State trial for the 2021 on-duty kidnapping and murder of Robert Howard. His body was dumped in a river and his car was sold for scrap metal. Out on bail, they’re now back in custody facing Federal civil rights charges for the same acts. And the recent, April 12th. death of Memphis officer Joseph McKinney, who was killed during a shootout with suspect Jaylen Lobley, is now being attributed to shots fired by fellow officers. Lobley had been released without bail one month earlier after being arrested in a stolen car in which he carried a firearm that had been illegally converted to fire fully automatically. Related posts 1   2

5/8/24 In 1998 two L.A.-area street gangsters, John Klene, 18 and Eduardo Dumbrique, 15, drew life without parole for murdering a rival the previous year. While family members said both were elsewhere when the killing took place, detectives assembled circumstantial tidbits and accounts from self- interested, allegedly manipulated witnesses into a tale that convinced jurors. Years later, an imprisoned gang member confessed to the crime. But his account wasn’t passed on, and it wasn’t until 2021, after innocence project lawyers had stepped in, that Klene and Dumbrique were exonerated and released. They will now divide a $24 million settlement, which L.A. County just approved. Innocence Project   Related post

$3.375 million dollars. That’s what L.A. County has agreed to pay the father of Dijon Kizzee, whom deputies fatally shot in 2020. Kizzee was purportedly riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the street, and he fled on foot when deputies tried to stop him. That turned into a scuffle. Kizzee freed himself and supposedly reached for a gun he had dropped on the ground. Deputies repeatedly fired, killing him. While the deputies were cleared by prosecutors, officials now agree that the officers overreacted. A gun was recovered. Kizzee, a felon, had been twice convicted for gun possession. Related post




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