Police Issues

One Week, Two Massacres
Part II

(#384, 4/4/21)

A troubled Colorado man buys a “pistol.”
Six days later ten innocents lie dead.

One Week, Two Massacres
Part I

(#383, 3/24/21)

An Atlanta man buys a pistol.
Hours later eight persons lie dead.


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

Trial of Derek Chauvin

3/29-4/2   4/5-4/9   4/12-4/16

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)


4/12/21 A Minneapolis suburb erupted into rioting and looting after a Black man died during an encounter with local police. During the afternoon of April 11, Brooklyn Center, Minn. police stopped Daunte Wright, 20 for a traffic violation, then tried to arrest him on a misdemeanor gun warrant. According to Police Chief Tim Gannon, the officer who shot Mr. Wright accidentally fired her gun instead of a Taser. Her body camera video records the shouted warning “Taser! Taser! Taser!” as Mr. Wright leaps back for his car. She then fired one round and exclaimed “Holy shit, I just shot him.” Mr. Wright drove off but the vehicle soon crashed. Related posts 1  2  3

4/11/21 A 21-year old man on probation for a gun crime opened fire in a violence-beset Chicago neighborhood as a vehicle passed by. Shot-spotter devices alerted police, and officers quickly appeared. The suspect bolted but was promptly arrested. His companion, 13-year old Adam Toledo, also ran off. He now had the gun. Officers say that the youth turned at them with the weapon, and they shot him dead. Related posts  1  2

4/10/21 Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced four initiatives to fight the increase of gun violence: (1) An updated ATF study of firearms trafficking that addresses new technologies, such as 3D printers, that allow persons to make guns at home; (2) a regulatory fix that imposes background check and other requirements on the sale of kits that consumers use to assemble unserialized “ghost guns”; (3) another regulatory fix that essentially prohibits the use of commercially-available “braces” to transform pistols into short-barreled rifles; (4) crafting of model protective order legislation to encourage more States to adopt Red Flag laws. Related posts 1  2  3

4/9/21 President Biden announced a regulatory initiative that would expand the definition of a firearm to include kits that presently allow persons to assemble unserialized “ghost guns.” Regulations would also keep manufacturers from transforming rifles into so-called “pistols,” such as the gun recently used in the Boulder massacre, by the expedient of replacing stocks with “braces.” But other gun-control moves, such as a ban on importing assault weapons, would require legislation, and in this political environment enacting new Federal gun laws seems a reach. Related posts 1  2

4/8/21 Los Angeles has settled several lawsuits filed by the families of armed persons shot by police. It agreed to pay $295,000 to the family of Carnell Snell, an armed youth whom officers shot dead as he ran after a traffic stop. Snell had a .40 caliber pistol in hand and officers said he turned at them. The Police Commission found the officer’s actions justified. Los Angeles also settled with the family of Anthony Soderberg for $1.15 million. Soderberg, a mentally ill man, had broken into a home and engaged the officers in a gun battle. Disagreeing with the Chief and the police union, the Police Commission ruled that the final police barrage that proved lethal was unnecessary as the suspect was no longer armed or presented a threat. Related posts 1  2

4/5/21 Maryland’s Governor is expected to sign a measure that substantially toughens sanctions for police misconduct, creates a statewide rule for use of force, and designates a State agency to investigate police-involved citizen deaths. Officers’ civil liability would be raised, and they would become liable to loss of pension. No-knock warrants would be restricted and body-cam use would be required. Meanwhile New York City enacted a comprehensive ordinance that, among other things,  strips its police officers of qualified immunity, which had protected them from being sued unless it was “clearly” proven they violated a Constitutional right. Rules also address unreasonable search and seizure and excessive force, and empower the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board to investigate officers “with a history of bias and racial complaints.”  Related post

4/4/21 A fifteen-year high of 170,000 illegal migrants were detained at the Southern border in March. With ICE facilities overwhelmed by the need to house “thousands” of unaccompanied children, and Mexico unable to help, many migrant families are being given court dates and released into the U.S. Immigration special topic  Related posts  1  2

New York State has legalized recreational pot. Citizens age 21 can now possess three ounces, and regulations that will permit cultivation and retail distribution will be in place by next year. Officials have high hopes that marijuana taxes will bring in $350 million per year. But Assemblyman Keith Brown (R-L.I.) bemoaned the move: “I am deeply concerned about the potential impacts legalizing marijuana will have on young adults and our quality of life in New York state.” Related posts  1  2

A mentally ill man “slipped” his car through a Capitol gate and rammed it into a barrier, striking two Capitol police officers. Noah Green, 25 stepped out with a knife and one of the officers shot him dead. But the officer’s partner, William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran, succumbed from his injuries. While legislators are anxious to bring down the unsightly security fencing installed after the assault and once again allow citizens to approach the Capitol’s exterior, this tragedy has caused a reassessment. Related post

3/27/21 In a recent meeting with firearms industry representatives, ATF suggested expanding its regulatory definition of a firearm to cut back on the proliferation of readily assembled, unserialized “ghost guns,” which are being used in violent crime. The reception was unenthusiastic. In December ATF agents searched the premises of Polymer80, a purveyor of “80 percent” pistol and assault rifle kits. ATF reportedly considered its handgun kits to be guns. But Polymer80 remains in business. Related post

3/26/21 On March 24 a 22-year old man lugged an AR-15 rifle and a satchel into an Atlanta grocery store and went to the restroom. A customer alerted police. Rico Marley, 22, was promptly arrested. Aside from the rifle, police found three pistols, a revolver, a shotgun and a tactical vest. Marley was booked for intention to commit a felony while armed. His mental health is being evaluated. Related posts  1  2

Four Chicago P.D. officers have now been shot in two weeks. On March 25 a shoplifter gravely wounded a security officer outside a store, and during an exchange of gunfire a responding police officer  was wounded. He was treated at a hospital and released. His assailant is dead. Related posts  1  2

In a potentially far-reaching decision, the California Supreme Court ruled that defendants must not be denied release simply because they cannot afford bail, and that if an amount within their means cannot be set measures that are “less restrictive” than confinement (such as wearing an ankle monitor) must be considered. (In re Kenneth Humphrey, no. S247278) Related posts  1  2

3/25/21 During an argument with his wife a Rhode Island man brought out a gun and asked her to shoot him. She fled and returned the next day with police. While the man agreed to go in for an evaluation, he didn’t consent to have two guns seized. But police did so after he left, and only returned them months later when pressed by his lawyer. He sued over the warrantless search, but Federal courts upheld it under the “community caretaking” exception, which has been applied to vehicles. Whether it extends to one’s home will now be decided by the Supreme Court. (Caniglia v. Strom, no. 20-157.) Related posts  1  2  3

3/24/21 L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has gone to court to challenge a subpoena by the County’s Civilian Oversight Commission, whose leader wants the Sheriff to “clarify” what he intends to do about deputy cliques. After unsuccessfully resisting an earlier subpoena Villanueva appeared voluntarily in December. He then said he had not disciplined any deputy for joining a clique since his earlier ban on “abusive groups,” and didn’t think that cliques not “tied” to misconduct could be barred. Related posts  1  2

3/23/21 On 3/22 a man armed with an assault-style rifle opened fire in a Boulder (CO) market and murdered ten persons. Among his victims was Boulder police officer Eric Talley, 51, who was first to arrive. Boulder has an ordinance that prohibits assault weapons acquired after June 15, 2018 but a judge recently ruled its provisions invalid as the subject matter is preempted by State law. Related posts  1  2

3/21/21 A comprehensive New York City report found serious flaws in its police department’s response to summer 2020 protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. It criticized, among other things, the lack of a “clearly defined” strategy for handling such events, “excessive enforcement” of minor transgressions (e.g. curfew violations) which needlessly increased officer-citizen conflicts, a thoughtless, overly rigid use of intelligence, and officers’ lack of recent training in handling protests. An inquiry by the New York Times reported similar lapses by police departments across the U.S.  Related post

Three Chicago officers have been shot within a week, two more since our last update six days ago. One, seriously wounded in the stomach, was off duty, sitting in his car at a traffic light. Two suspects are being sought. The other officer suffered a hand wound while responding to a call about gunshots. Her assailant was arrested. Chicago’s also beset by carjackings, many by small groups of thugs. There have been 370 so far this year, the most in at least two decades. Related posts  1  2  3

3/19/21 A comprehensive review of the Bordeline Bar & Grill massacre, where a Sheriff's Sergeant was accidentally shot and killed by a Highway Patrol officer, recommends, among other things, that “Tactical teams be formed from members of the same agency when possible to ensure tactics and communications are consistent.” It also calls for “radio interoperability” between agencies and stresses that an officer must immediately take charge should no supervisor be present. Related post

3/17/21 Yesterday morning Robert Aaron Long, 21, bought a 9mm. pistol at an Atlanta gun shop. Georgia does not have a waiting period, so after passing an Insta-check he promptly left with the gun. Long soon visited three massage parlors. In each he opened fire, killing a total of eight persons. Long was arrested while driving to Florida, supposedly to continue his spree. He told police he was a customer of the parlors, calling them a “sexual addiction” and a “temptation he wanted to eliminate.” Related posts  1  2

With construction suspended by the new Administration, incomplete sections of the border wall abound, creating visual and physical blight. And, according to Republican lawmakers, offering a profusion of places where persons can cross at will. But President Biden rescinded the “national emergency” that authorized using defense funds, and improving the wall’s coverage seems out of reach. Related post

3/16/21 Federal agents arrested two men, one from West Virginia, the other from Pennsylvania, for spraying a toxic substance into the face of three officers during the intrusion into the Capitol. One of their victims was Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick, who later succumbed to unspecified injuries. DOJ release Related post

In Tucson, civilian teams staffed with experts in mental health, drug abuse and homelessness will be taking over the response to non-criminal, non-violent calls including panhandling, complaints about “minor noise,” welfare checks and suicidal persons who don’t pose a threat to others. Calls that involve violence “or any immediate threat to public safety” will continue to be handled by police. Related post

3/15/21 On September 14 gunfire broke out at a “pop-up” party in Chicago’s bedraggled South Side. By the time it was done fifteen were wounded and a 30-year old woman and a 39-year old man lay dead. Officers found four pistols and attribute the incident to gangs. Hours later a gunman drove by a police station in the South Side and opened fire, wounding a sergeant who had just stepped outside. Related posts  1  2  3

3/14/21  A Jefferson County (Louisville) judge permanently barred the prosecution of Kenneth Walker for firing the round that struck Sgt. Mattingly. Walker, who legally possessed the weapon, insists that he did not know the intruders were police. “I am a legal gun owner and I would never knowingly shoot a police officer. Breonna and I did not know who was banging at the door, but police know what they did." Walker has filed a lawsuit against Louisville alleging “assault, battery, false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, abuse of process and negligence.” Related post

Louisville settled the lawsuit filed by Breonna Taylor’s family for $12 million. It also pledged to make substantial changes in police practices and improve the quality of its force. To help accomplish the latter it is increasing rookie pay by 29 percent. That would raise it to $45,000, which is still relatively low. Former cop Brett Hankinson, the only Louisville officer facing charges (three counts of wanton endangerment), had been suspended by a prior agency. Hankinson went on to accumulate a serious number of demerits in Louisville, where he gained a reputation for being aggressive. Related post

3/12/21 When multiple cops unleash near-simultaneous barrages of gunfire at a suspect, are they deciding individually? Or are their trigger fingers sometimes driven by “contagion” from their colleagues? On November 23, 2020 six Oklahoma City police officers confronted Stavian Rodriguez, 15, after he and another youth robbed a gas station. Rodriguez dropped a handgun on the ground, then reached into a pocket. One officer fired a non-lethal round. Five others unleashed a barrage of pistol fire, striking Rodriguez at least thirteen times. Rodriguez died from his wounds. On March 10, 2021 a criminal complaint was filed charging those five officers with first-degree manslaughter. Related posts  1  2

In 2015 Dylan Roof murdered nine church parishioners in South Carolina with a gun he bought at retail. Although he was Federally prohibited from acquiring firearms because he was a drug user, the FBI did not discover his drug arrest within the three days allotted for background checks. So Roof automatically got his gun. A flood of gun sales has also burdened the “Insta-Check” system, leading to “more than 4,800” gun transfers in 2018 to prohibited buyers. On March 11 the House passed a bill that would extend background checks to seven days, require them for transactions at gun shows and between private parties, and ban the manufacture and transfer of unserialized “ghost guns.” Related posts  1  2

“Cannabis use disorder” (use that leads to psychological impairment) is commonplace. But discontinuing the use of marijuana can be difficult. According to NIJ, psychosocial treatments that address “the patterns, thoughts, and external triggers” that lead to its use have proven effective. Related posts  1  2

3/11/21 NIJ announced the publication of Federally-funded reports on the promises and perils of artificial intelligence in criminal justice. Click here for the summary, here for Law Enforcement, here for Criminal Courts, and here for Corrections. Related post

Two days ago a 69-year old Chicago man with a CCW license opened fire on three teens who pulled up in a stolen car and tried to rob him. He wounded one in the knee, and all three fled. Police captured the teens after they crashed their vehicle. So far two face charges: one is 15, the other, 16. It’s unknown whether the youths were armed. Related posts  1  2

3/10/21 BJS reports that local jail populations decreased about twenty-five percent during the twelve months ending June 30, 2020. Inmates being held on misdemeanors declined about 45 percent; those held for felonies, about 18 percent. At mid-year 2020 the jail incarceration rate was 167/100K, the lowest in three decades. COVID-imposed restrictions are considered the primary cause. Report Related posts 1   2

An online poll of 1,165 American voters disclosed “a stark divide” between Black and White opinions on race and policing. While a decided majority of Blacks (64 percent) felt that police had murdered George Floyd, only 28 percent of Whites agreed. “Fully funding” police was endorsed by 65 percent of Whites and 37 percent of Blacks. Similar Democratic/Republican splits were also evident. Related posts  1  2

3/9/21 Lethal gunplay is way up in Los Angeles, with 64 murders and 267 shootings thru March 2 compared with 46 murders and 111 shootings during that period last year. While many killings continue to be attributed to gangs, armed robberies are taking place throughout the city. And in what an LAPD assistant chief called a “disturbing trend,” holdup victims are increasingly being shot. Related posts  1  2


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