Police Issues

Thought-provoking essays on crime, justice and policing

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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...






4/24/24 After a late-evening argument with his wife, Jonathan Candy, an Oklahoma City father of four, shot her dead. He then gunned down three of their boys, ages 12, 14 and 18, and committed suicide. A fourth boy, 10, discovered the carnage when he awakened in the morning. His bedroom door had been closed and a fan was running, so he slept through the massacre. He discovered the bodies and called 9-1-1. The child is now with relatives. Related post

Acting on a condemned defendant’s long-standing petition, Alameda County, Calif. D.A. Pamela Price reported that prosecutors underlined the word “Jewish” while his jury was being selected. After a thorough review, D.A. Price announced that prosecutors had engaged in a widespread practice of excluding Black and Jewish jurors. Her findings, she said, “suggests plainly that many people did not receive a fair trial.” A Federal judge has now ordered that dozens of convictions be reviewed. Related post

4/23/24 Last October the Supreme Court temporarily set aside a ruling by a Fifth Circuit panel which  invalidated a 2022 Federal rule that defined gun parts kits as firearms, thus requiring they bear serial numbers and be subject to the same controls as functioning guns. ATF had intended that the rule stop the proliferation of so-called “ghost guns”, which are readily acquired by criminals and cannot be traced when recovered. The Supreme Court has now agreed to take up arguments and make the final decision. Related post

Marijuana use is legal in Maine, but growers must be licensed. Many aren’t. According to Federal authorities, an estimated one-hundred illegal growths dot the state’s countryside. Most are supposedly funded by “international criminal organizations,” including China and Mexico. Dozens of search warrants have been executed on such operations during the past year, and agents recently seized “nearly 40 pounds” of processed marijuana at one rural home. Drug legalization updates   Related post

4/22/24 Former Crawford County, Arkansas deputies Levi White and Zackary King pled guilty to Federal civil rights violations for beating a man who shoplifted a bottle of water in August 2022. Initial reports indicate that Randal Ray Worcester punched one of three officers who approached him in the head. But his subsequent takedown, which included the delivery of numerous violent blows, was merciless. A bystander captured it on video. Video   Related post

Hundreds of young persons had gathered for a “senior skip day” at a county park 15 miles NE of Washinton D.C. when gunfire rang out. Five teens, ages 16 to 18, were wounded, one critically. The shooter, also young, fled. While overall crime in Prince George’s County is down, violent crime is up 9 percent, and youth violence has become chronic. Ninety-two juveniles were arrested on gun charges in 2023. This shooting came only two hours after a shooting in D.C. wounded three men and a 16-year old. Related post

Overruling her predecessor, who found the officers acted reasonably, Alameda, Calif. D.A. Pamela Price charged two current police officers and a sheriff’s deputy (he was then a cop) with negligent manslaughter in the 2121 death of Mario Gonzalez. In response to a 9-1-1 call, they encountered Gonzalez, who seemed drunk, and “pinned him to the ground.” Gonzalez’s death was attributed to meth intoxication, with contributing factors of “altercation and restraint”, obesity and alcoholism.  Video   Related post

LAPD officer Alan Carrillo is being held on $100,000 bond on charges that he stole items, “including brass knuckles and knives,” from persons he stopped last year while assigned to the Mission Division’s scandal-beset gang unit. It’s expected that other officers will also be arrested. Alleged misconduct by Carrillo and another officer could imperil as many as 350 cases in which they had been involved. Related posts 1   2

D.C. legalized recreational pot in 2014 but restricted its commercial sale to a handful of medical dispensaries. An exception, though, allowed retailers to “gift” an ounce or less. That bred a horde of “gifting” shops, where buying a t-shirt or knickknack earned an ostensibly “free” helping of pot. D.C has now opened up medical marijuana licensing, and over 200 “gifting” shops have applied. And no, a prescription isn’t needed. All that customers must do is affirm they have a bona fide medical need. Drug legalization updates   Related post

4/19/24 Feds are bringing in special tools to help violence-besieged cities. To help trace the path of firearms used in crimes, Chicago is getting its very own Crime Gun Intelligence Center. And the surge in carjackings will be addressed by Federal- local task forces in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Related post

Former St. Louis police officer Luther Hall, a Black man, was viciously beaten by four White uniformed officers as he worked undercover monitoring a protest over a St. Louis cop’s acquittal for the 2011 killing of a Black man. Hall, a 22-year veteran, was disabled and retired. His four assailants were convicted of civil rights charges. Mr. Hall settled with the City for $5 million. And a judge just awarded him $23 million in a default judgment against one of the convicted cops, who is now in home confinement. Related post

An L.A. County Deputy Sheriff faces felony charges for keeping a coin purse containing money that she found while searching a vehicle during a traffic stop. Deputy Jessica Lynn later discarded the purse, which was apparently recovered. Months earlier another deputy was investigated for stealing poker chips from a professional gambler whose vehicle he searched outside a casino. Prosecutors declined to follow through on that case, though, since the victim, citing fears of deputy gangs, refused to cooperate. Related post

4/18/24 Inspired by the Lewiston mass shooting, Maine’s legislature approved a “sweeping” gun-control bill that imposes a 72-hour wait on gun purchases, bans bump stocks, requires criminal record checks for private gun sales, and makes it a crime to “recklessly” transfer a gun to a prohibited person. But while the State’s “Yellow Flag” law was strengthened, a proposed “Red Flag” measure that would allow family members (not just police) to petition for gun seizures was not included. Related posts 1   2

California’s A.G. ruled that LAPD Officer William Jones was justified in shooting at a man who rampaged through a Burlington clothing store in 2021. Jones’ gunfire killed the suspect, who turned out to be unarmed. But one of the bullets pierced an inner wall, fatally wounding a 14-year old girl who was in a changing room with her mother. LAPD Chief Bratton had ruled that Jones’ gunfire was wholly inappropriate, but he was overruled by the LAPD Commission. Officer Jones remains on duty. Related post

In a concerted effort to tackle an epidemic of “flash robberies” by mobs of thieves, LAPD released a detailed series of images depicting hooded young persons swarming retailers on two occasions in March. They are described as “male Hispanics, five to six feet tall, 120 to 250 pounds, and appear to be between the ages of 15-25 years old.” Police cautioned that the thieves “used force and displayed a lack of regard for the safety of witnesses and victims.” They fled on bicycles. Related post

4/17/24 After the foreperson announced the panel was deadlocked 7-5, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge declared a mistrial in the case against ex-schools cop Eddie Gonzalez. Charged with 2nd. degree  murder for shooting and killing a passenger in a car that he approached after an altercation on a nearby campus, Gonzalez insisted that he fired because the car’s sudden movement placed him in danger. But that’s been strongly disputed. According to the foreman, the holdouts favored a manslaughter conviction. A lawsuit against the school district was settled for $13 million last year. A retrial is pending.
Related posts 1   2

Buffalo homicides, which reached a high of 70 in 2022, plunged to 38 the following year. What led to such a steep drop? According to a deep look by The Trace, it can be credited to a collaborative effort between government agencies, police, and, most importantly, non-profit groups and neighborhood organizations, which sought to “interrupt” violence and redirect youths to positive ends. Related post

In upstate New York, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Hoosock and Syracuse police officer Michael Jensen were shot and killed by a driver who had fled from a traffic stop. When confronted at his residence, Christopher Murphy, 33, told a friend to leave and opened fire on the officers with an “AR-15 style” rifle. His only criminal record was a decade-old arrest for drunk driving. Murphy was also shot and killed during the exchange. Related post

4/16/24 Authorities in Eagle Pass, Texas, the border community that’s at center in the bitter dispute between the State and the Feds, are “overwhelmed” by a profusion of immigrant deaths. Many crossing attempts end in tragedy as would-be immigrants are overcome by heat and starvation or drown  in the unpredictable waters of the Rio Grande. “You want to make sure they get back to their loved ones, but it’s too many people crossing the river. Where do we put the bodies?” asked a local Justice of the Peace. Immigration updates   Related post

Following in the footsteps of D.C., Baltimore and Los Angeles, Philadelphia has secured an agreement from Polymer 80 to stop selling unserialized gun parts kits to its residents. Philadelphia’s move is intended to force would-be gun owners to undergo a background check, which can be avoided by assembling a gun from parts. As part of a court-approved settlement, the “ghost gun” maker is paying the violence-beset city $1.3 million to recompense it for its troubles. Related post

4/15/24 Plainclothes-wearing police tactical officers in Chicago’s beset Humboldt Park area pulled over Dexter Reed on March 21 because he wasn’t belted. His windows were tinted, and he refused to roll them down. Reed then opened fire on the officer on the passenger side of the car, wounding him in the arm. Police responded with a barrage of 96 shots, and an officer reportedly kept shooting as Reed, fatally wounded, lay on the ground. COPA, the city’s civilian police overseer, criticized the stop and urged that the four officers involved (they’re under investigation for alleged past misdeeds) be suspended. At the time, Reed was pending charges for “aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.” COPA reports and videos Related post

Despite a reported citywide easing in violence, residents of D.C.’s beset “Carver-Langston” area, in the Fifth Ward, continue to suffer. During the late afternoon hours of April 10, two persons exited a car with tinted windows and fired “dozens of rounds” as pedestrians, including children, strolled by. A 29-year old  man was killed and five persons, including a 9-year old and his 12-year old friend, were wounded. Their mothers said they plan to leave the area. The shooters managed to evade police. Related post

During America’s post-9/11 occupation of Iraq, interrogators supplied by military contractor CACI instructed U.S. military police to “soften” detainees housed at notorious Abu Ghraib prison. And that the soldiers did, engaging in notorious physical and psychological abuses that eventually led to court-martials and convictions. But the civilians were never held to account. Until today, when a Federal civil lawsuit filed against CACI by three of its victims gets underway in Virginia. Related post

Texas man Raul Meza Jr. was 32 when he was paroled in 1993 after serving 10 years for murdering an 8- year old. That caused a stir. And now there’s another, as Meza is back in custody after offering to accept a 50-year term in exchange for pleading guilty to recently murdering his roommate and to killing a woman during a 2019 sexual assault. That earlier murder would have been long solved, it turns out, but for an Austin detective’s then-failure to follow up on a positive DNA match. It’s now thought that Meza may have committed as many as ten killings after his early release. Related post

In Chicago’s violence-ridden New City neighborhood, shots fired from a passing car at a family gathered in its front yard killed a 9-year old girl and wounded three other children, two critically. Seven adults, ages 19 to 40, were also wounded. The homeowner, who was shot in the foot, said that gun violence had led his family, which had lived in the area more than thirty years, to seek a home elsewhere. “We were just a little too late.” No arrests have yet been made, and police said that gang violence was suspected. Related post

Mary Moriarty, Minneapolis’ one-time chief public defender, was elected as the city’s D.A. on promises of reforming the police and reining in punishment. Her tenure has been marred by criticism of her supposedly over-progressive tendencies.  Two judges rejected plea deals they found excessively lenient, and the State A.G. took over a case in which she tried to divert a youth who killed a child’s mother. Most recently, she charged a State trooper with murdering a motorist who tried to flee from a traffic stop. It’s a complex case, and even top Democratic officials have criticized her actions. Related post

4/12/24 A lawsuit against the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. by eight deputies who allege they were mistreated by their agency after clashing with members of the Banditos “deputy gang” has been cleared for trial. Aside from the County, the suit names four former deputies who were in the gang; three were fired and one retired. Another lawsuit, filed by a former deputy, claims that his opposition to the “Regulators” deputy gang led his superior officer, a “tattooed” member of the gang, to unjustly fire him for misconduct. His then-boss is presently the agency’s acting chief of training and personnel. Related posts 1   2

According to the Attorney General, ATF’s “final rule”, which implements the language of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, clarifies that no matter where guns are sold, “on the internet, at a gun show, or at a brick-and-mortar store,” if the motive is to profit, a Federal firearms dealer license is required, and a background check must be conducted. Final rule Related post

4/11/24 Homeless and troubled, William Woods gave up. In 2020 he pled guilty in Los Angeles to a  series of financial crimes. Woods was jailed, then placed under mental care. In fact, the crimes had been committed by Matthew Keirans. A long-ago coworker, he had stolen Woods’ identity and posed as him since 1988. Finally, in 2023, a detective at the Iowa college where the pretend Woods worked used DNA from Woods’ father’s birth certificate to confirm who the real  Woods was. Keirans recently pled guilty to Federal impersonation charges; he faces thirty years. Woods’ exoneration is pending. Related post

Twenty-five million. That’s what L.A. County has agreed to pay Isaias Cervantes, a seriously mentally-ill man who was shot and paralyzed during a 9-1-1 response. Family members called because Cervantes had become combative during a “mental health crisis”, and he tried to fight off deputies when they tried to handcuff him. One deputy repeatedly exclaimed “he's going for my gun,” and another opened fire. LASD declared the shooting “in policy,” and the D.A. declined to prosecute. Video   Related post

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill making it a crime for immigrants who have been deported or denied entry to the U.S. to be in Iowa. Those who fail to leave the U.S. would be subject to prosecution. It’s now the second State, after Texas, to make illegal immigration a State crime. But Des Moines police said they would not expend the resources to pro-actively enforce the measure. “Senate File 2340” will become effective July 1st. Bill   Immigration updates   Related post

4/10/24 Two and one-half years have passed since Ethan Crumbley’s parents were jailed for making a newly-bought pistol easily accessible to their deeply troubled 17-year old son. Ethan Crumbley promptly used the gun to murder four students and wound seven. He was convicted and got life without parole. Jennifer and James Crumbley were tried and convicted of manslaughter earlier this year. Both were just sentenced to fifteen years and will have to serve at least ten, with credit for time served. Related posts 1   2

In 2008 Missouri man Brian Dorsey pled guilty to gunning down his cousin and her husband, allegedly while high on cocaine. He was sentenced to death. During his 17 years in prison, Dorsey reportedly became a model of reform and drew great praise from his keepers. So much so, that more than seventy signed a letter asking that his life be spared. His victims’ families took both sides. But the Supreme Court turned away his plea, and Gov. Mike Parson insisted the execution be carried through. And on April 9, 2024, it was. Related post

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether the D.C. Court of Appeals was correct when it upheld the prosecution of January 6th. Capitol rioters for obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, a felony. Challengers argue that the statute only applies to the destruction of evidence in Government custody. In anticipation, some judges have granted a number of early releases. While a majority of serious Jan. 6th. sentences were based on other, violent felonies, more than 100 cases could be affected. Capitol updates   Related post

According to the Justice Department, since its establishment in May 2021 the COVID-19 task force has filed criminal charges against more than 3,500 persons for purposely misappropriating over $2 billion in pandemic relief funds. In addition, civil actions have led to over 400 settlements, and more than $1.4 billion has been recovered through seizure and forfeiture. Report   COVID-19 updates

Enacted in 2014, California Proposition 47 raised the threshold for felony theft to $950. That, say retailers, spurred on an epidemic of smash -and-grabs. A ballot initiative would address the issue by allowing felony charges for three-time repeaters and for strings of thefts where the total loss is at least $950. “The homelessness, drug addiction and theft reduction act” also targets the fentanyl crisis. Among (many) other things, drug treatment would be required for chronic users. Initiative 23-0017   Related post

4/9/24 A meta-review just published in Criminology examined seventeen studies of preventive police patrol in large urban areas. According to reviewers, increased preventive efforts led to statistically significant reductions in property and violent crime, but had no appreciable effect on drug offenses and disorder. It’s suggested that in addition to regular patrol, police adopt a “hot spots” approach that deploys officers to troubled areas during the periods when crime is most prevalent. Related post

4/8/24 More than thirteen-million bucks. That’s what New York City has set aside to recompense residents who were forced by police to remove religious head coverings. This settlement was brought on by a lawsuit from two Muslim women who had to remove their hijabs for booking photos after their arrests for violating protective orders. Those incidents took place in 2017, and the policy was discontinued four years later. By that time, “thousands” of persons of various religions had been affected. Related post

Caribbean nations are beset by arms smuggled from America. In 2021, nearly 85 percent of guns recovered in Haiti that were traced by ATF turned out to have come from the U.S. Haitian gangs are the primary consumers. Their guns are often acquired by straw buyers, then disassembled and packed aboard ships among legal cargo. Corrupt Haitian officials are often in the mix. Related post




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