FAIR BUT FIRM
Gaining voluntary compliance is the sine qua non of everyday policing. Indeed, of everyday life.
Every mom and dad remembers the day (well, maybe it was a week or a month) when their bundle
of joy transformed into an obstinate brat. As we well know, it’s a two-way street. How parents respond to their
children’s acting-outs – and how offspring react to their parents’ response – can affect their
relationship during the crucial teen years and well into adulthood.
To be sure, even the best parents can only do so much. Genes don’t come with an instruction
manual. And once environmental factors such as peers and schools come into play the ability to influence one’s
offspring is severely limited.
Gaining compliance – hopefully, without resorting to brute force – is crucial in areas
other than parenting. Regulations that require industry to recycle waste and limit pollution would hardly be needed if
businesses paid attention to their impact on public health. Alas, when the “bottom line” is in play,
corporations tend to assess the benefits of social responsibility with a calculator. Governments can offer inducements
such as financing and technical assistance, but in the end there seems to be no substitute for their ability to impose fines that exceed the cost of doing
the right thing from the very start.
Big business has problems other than Uncle Sam. Their chieftains must contend with corporate boards,
investors and the stock market. How about individuals? Must they also be coerced to do the right thing? Perhaps.
According to Robbins and Kaiser
the likelihood of punishment for noncompliance seems to be taxpayers’ key motivator for complying with the law.
(“Legitimate authorities and rational taxpayers: An investigation of voluntary compliance and method effects in a
survey experiment of income tax evasion,” Rationality and Society, 2018).
What about policing? Are threats of punishment the real motivator there, too? Much of the
literature says “yes!” For example, Sommers and Bohns looked into so-called “consent” searches. Bottom line: citizens who
comply do so because they feel pressured. (“The Voluntariness of Voluntary Consent: Consent Searches and the
Psychology of Compliance,” Yale Law Journal, 2019).
WHEN SHOULD COPS LIE?
NYPD detectives tweak an old approach. But lying is still lying.
Desperate to avoid controversy, politicians avoid the obvious
MUST THE DOOR
Bail and sentencing reform come. Then stuff happens.
A RECIPE FOR DISASTER
Take an uncertain workplace. Toss in a "mission impossible" and pressures to produce. Voila!
LOOPHOLES ARE LETHAL (II)
Who can buy a gun? Indeed, just what is a gun? Um, let’s pretend!
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? (PART II)
Quit blaming police racism for lopsided outcomes. And fix those neighborhoods! (#344, 12/3/19)
DID THE TIMES SCAPEGOAT L.A.'S FINEST? (PART I)
Accusations of biased policing
derail a stop-and-frisk campaign
TECHNOLOGY'S GREAT -
UNTIL IT'S NOT
Police love Rapid DNA and facial recognition but hate encryption. Privacy advocates beg to differ.
MEANS, ENDS AND 9/11
Extraordinary measures beget extraordinary consequences
Despite redevelopment, South Bend's poverty and crime remain locked in an embrace (#340, 9/13/19)
Doing right by the public might
mean doing wrong to the cop
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
TWO SIDES OF
THE SAME COIN
Street gangs and officer cliques have a lot in common (#336, 7/20/19)
CAN YOU ENFORCE
Decriminalizing illegal immigration would have serious consequences (#335, 7/1/19)
WITHOUT A DIFFERENCE
An epidemic of officer suicide raises the question: do guns cause violence? (#334, 6/22/19)
INFORMED AND LETHAL
Accurate information can provoke lethal errors (#333, 5/5/19)
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)
RED FLAG AT HALF-MAST II
Preventing more than suicide may carry serious risks (#325, 12/5/18)
RED FLAG AT HALF-MAST
California’s Guv nixes expanded authority to seize guns from their owners (#324, 11/21/18)
PREVENTING MASS MURDER
With gun control a no-go, early intervention is key. Might artificial intelligence help? (#323, 11/4/18)
NOTCHING A "WIN"
A self-professed “sleeper agent” is (legally) flimflammed by the FBI
IS IT EVER OK TO SHOOT SOMEONE IN THE BACK?
Laws, policies and politics clash with the messiness of policing
Acting swiftly can save lives. And take them, too. (#320, 9/23/18)
THE BAIL CONUNDRUM
Bail obviously disadvantages the poor. What are the alternatives? (#319, 9/4/18)
Surprise! A well-known terrorist winds up in the U.S. as a refugee (#318, 8/18/18)
POLICE SLOWDOWNS II
Cops can’t fix what ails America’s inner cities - and shouldn’t try
Bedeviled by scolding, cops hold back. What happens then?
SHOULD EVERY TOWN FIELD ITS OWN COPS?
Recent tragedies bring into question the wisdom of small agencies
NO ONE WANTS EX-CONS TO HAVE GUNS
The New York Times affirms its liberal creds. And falls into
a rabbit hole. (#314, 6/24/18)
FEWER CAN BE BETTER
Murder clearances have declined. Should we worry? (#313, 6/9/18)
THE BLAME GAME
Inmates are “realigned” from state to county supervision. Then a cop
gets killed. (#312, 5/21/18)
IS YOUR UNCLE A SERIAL KILLER?
Police scour DNA databanks for the kin of unidentified suspects
THERE'S NO "PRETENDING"
Sometimes split-second decisions are right, even when they're wrong
COVID-19: R.I.P. POLICING?
Crime-fighters confront the challenges of coronavirus (#350, 3/17/20)
Crime, courts, jails, corrections
Resources and fraud
4/6/20 California’s Judicial Council imposed
eleven temporary emergency
rules that apply to all courts in the state. One rule sets bail as zero dollars for all misdemeanor offenses and non-violent
felonies. Another rule allows pretrial hearings to be done remotely, with the consent of defendants.
4/6/20 (1) Traffic stops and
arrests have plunged in major cities. During the second half of March drug and alcohol arrests fell by 76% in Denver, 87% in
Providence and 45% in Seattle. However, domestic violence incidents are up sharply in many areas. (2) During the same period, burglaries
rose 75% in New York City. Primary targets are “cash businesses, supermarkets and bodegas.” They’re being broken
into in the nighttime, when they are closed because of the pandemic.
4/6/20 Even in liberal democracies, police around the globe have become increasingly proactive enforcing
restrictions. Officers in Israel fined pedestrians for venturing too far from their homes, while cops in Australia stepped in to
prohibit sunbathing in parks. Authoritarian regimes have taken a far sterner approach, with officers in Kenya using batons and
tear gas to disperse a crowd at a terminal.
Nashville police are handling non-emergency, non-violent situations by phone. That can range from minor, no-injury vehicle crashes
to vandalism, shoplifting and thefts from vehicles and stores, when there’s no suspect or “recoverable evidence”
on scene and losses are less than $5,000.
3/30/20 “Grim Sleeper” Lonnie Franklin, one of the first serial killers identified through
familial DNA, died of apparently natural causes while awaiting execution. He had been on death row since his 2016
conviction for committing ten murders in South Los Angeles between 1985 and 2007. Related posts
3/29/20 In their new book,
“Understanding Police Interrogation: Confessions and Consequences,”
Woody and Forrest argue that false confessions can be caused by psychological manipulations; for example, techniques
that “build rapport” with suspects and tricks that fool them into believing they’ve been incriminated by
(non-existent) evidence. Related posts 1
3/28/20 Two articles in a special issue
of Criminology & Public Policy, “Assessing the potential.....” by Koper, and “Evidence concerning the regulation....” by Webster, McCourt, Crifasi, Booty
and Stuart, report that restricting large-capacity magazines reduces the frequency of mass shootings. Handgun buyer
licensing (but not background checks or assault weapon bans) were also found effective in the latter study. Related posts
Fourteen sets of well-to-do parents prosecuted for buying their children into expensive colleges are demanding
that charges be dismissed. According to their court filing, prosecutors allegedly withheld notes made by their key
witness, the middleman, that parents had asked him to donate to programs, but that prosecutors coerced him into telling
them during taped calls that their money was bribing individuals.
3/27/20 An NIJ-funded meta-analysis concludes
that “focused intervention” programs that go beyond what’s usually offered to ex-offenders can
significantly reduce recidivism. Among these are cognitive-behavioral therapy, structured group counseling and drug court.
3/12/20 “Ghost gun” kits were banned by law
in the District of Columbia. According to authorities, untraceable guns assembled from “eighty percent” kits
were used in four recent D.C. homicides and the attempted murder of two police reserve officers.
3/11/20 A new academic study contradicts
earlier findings by Chicago’s court system that bail reforms which increased the number of persons released before
trial did not lead to more crime. Researchers instead found that after the 2017 loosening, the proportion of releasees
charged with new crimes increased by 45 percent, and with new violent crimes by 33 percent. They also confirmed the
Tribune findings reported below (see 2/13/20 update). Related posts
3/9/20 “Policing Protests,” a new report funded by the Guggenheim Foundation and the COPS office, reviews clashes
between police and Occupy protesters after Ferguson. It suggests, among other things, that police avoid a militarized
response, promptly establish communication with protesters, emphasize their support for legal forms of expression,
focus enforcement on violent, dangerous conduct, and avoid acting in ways that might align ordinary protesters with
their more radical peers. Related posts
3/6/20 DOJ announced that ICE will soon begin routinely collecting DNA from “certain” persons who
are detained for illegal entry. As is the case for ordinary arrestees, these samples will be included in the FBI’s
national CODIS database. Officials are preparing a rule that will identify exactly whom among the scores of illegal
migrants the new procedure will affect. Related posts
3/5/20 A San Francisco-area Superior Court panel ruled that California’s legalization of recreational
marijuana means that police who stop a vehicle cannot search it based on the odor of pot, or on an occupant’s
possession of a legal amount. Related posts
3/3/20 On March 2 the Supreme Court rejected
without comment an appeal of ATF’s
December, 2018 decision to classify bump stocks as machineguns. Its ruling, which effectively bans the devices,
was protested by gun rights groups that pointed to ATF’s former position allowing their use. In a stinging but unsuccessful dissent, Justice Gorsuch echoed the
3/2/20 Citing the use of
untraceable “ghost guns” in local murders, including one this year, the District of Columbia’s mayor
and police chief pressed for a law to ban the possession of gun parts kits in the District. They spoke by a table
displaying homebuilt handguns seized by authorities.
3/1/20 On February 26 Anthony Ferrill, 51, an electrician, opened fire
at the Milwaukee brewery where he was employed, killing five coworkers and himself. Ferrill had been in long-running
disputes at work. Ferrill used two handguns, one reportedly equipped with a silencer. According to a neighbor,
Ferrill was a hobbyist who assembled his own guns. He was twice charged
with assault in the past, and had once allegedly pointed a gun at a vehicle.
2/24/20 DEA is reeling from two major episodes of agent corruption. Fernando Gomez, a seven-year agent who allegedly became a Fed
to help his pals smuggle drugs from Puerto Rico, was recently sentenced to four years in Federal prison. In an unrelated
matter, celebrated former agent
Jose Irizarry and his wife were arrested in Puerto Rico in connection with a years-long drug cartel money laundering
scheme that reportedly netted the couple millions. Related posts
2/14/20 Special teams of border agents are being deployed in nine areas, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New
York, whose “sanctuary” policies preclude cooperating with ICE. Their function will be to track down and
arrest immigration scofflaws who would otherwise avoid removal.
2/14/20 Fearful that
official opposition to the State’s recent bail reforms may cause them to be dumped altogether, New York’s
“progressives” are backing changes that would do away with cash bail but allow judges to keep dangerous
accused in jail. Factors that would be considered for remand would include risk of non-appearance, criminal record and
whether a crime resulted in death.
2/14/20 Church shootings have led
many congregations to hire guards and create teams of armed parishioners. Some States that restrict gun carry or
possession in churches or elsewhere have modified their laws to enable such moves, and similar legal adjustments are in
2/13/20 An extensive Chicago Tribune analysis of the effects of bail reforms
implemented by the county’s chief judge, including the reduction and elimination of cash bail, concludes that claims
it reduced violent crime are based on flawed data and a purposely narrow definition of a crime of violence. Twelve
homicides were allegedly committed in Chicago during the first nine months of 2019 by persons released under the new rules.
Lawsuits and challenges by two dozen individuals who allege that they were wrongly entered into Cal Gangs has led LAPD to
remove them from the statewide gang database. Police insist that they’re properly using the system. But the State AG
has opened an investigation.
2/11/20 In a speech to a national sheriff’s group, AG William Barr announced hopes that the Supreme
Court would overrule California laws that obstruct immigration enforcement. He mentioned lawsuits against New Jersey,
which keeps police from sharing information with ICE, and King County, Washington, which forbids deportation flights from
its airport. Barr also warned that lax prosecution of repeat offenders by “progressive” D.A.’s in
cities such as San Francisco imperiled public safety and was responsible for increases in crime and violence. Related posts
2/10/20 In 2017 Robert Williams,
43, was paroled for a 2002 attempted murder in which he shot a civilian during a carjacking then fired at police. Yesterday
he ambushed two NYPD officers sitting in a van, then opened fire in a precinct house. Two officers were wounded. Williams,
who was due to appear in court in connection with a recent arrest for obstructing police, was taken into custody.
2/10/20 A string of fatal
vehicle-pedestrian accidents involving drivers with a history of moving violations is leading New York City authorities
to consider get-tough measures against drivers who repeatedly rack up speeding and red-light camera tickets. Instead of
simply being fined, recidivists could face mandatory driver education or have their vehicles impounded.
Drawn from social media and other publicly-available sources, Clearview’s vast image database is helping
participating police agencies identify victims of child abuse depicted on offender videos and other media. While the
approach has met with success, privacy advocates fear its misuse.
2/9/20 In a 2011 op-ed a Forbes contributor detailed retaliation
against ATF agents who had objected to letting guns walk during Fast and Furious. A Washington Post reader recently
compared these actions, taken during the Obama years, to Trump’s reassignment of witnesses who testified against him
in the House during impeachment proceedings.
2/7/20 Four days ago NYPD officers arrested Gaspar Avendano-Hernandez, a two-time deportee, for felony driving with
a forged license plate. As New York is a sanctuary state, police ignored a detainer and released the man without giving
notice. ICE then confronted him at a home. A fight ensued and agents wound up shooting and wounding a young resident who
2/5/20 With his appeals denied all the way to the Supreme Court, former L.A. County Sheriff
Lee Baca, who reportedly suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, reported to a Federal prison near El Paso to begin
serving his three-year sentence.
2/4/20 When uncertainty
strikes, “the brain often fills in the gaps in perceptions, supplying missing information based on that
person’s past experiences or expectations.” That, according to Thomas Albright, who led the team that issued
the Culprit,” the groundbreaking 2014 NAS report, can affect what witnesses think they see, hear and
experience, with obvious consequences.
2/3/20 Critics claim that California’s Cal Gang database sweeps too
wide. Governor Newsom and the A.G. apparently agree. But their proposal to tighten how police label gang members - say,
not on clothing alone - are opposed by law enforcement. Its “solutions,” though, are being criticized by
activists for creating “loopholes” that supposedly keep race and economics in the driver’s seat.
2/1/20 Loopholes aren’t
just about guns. Nicotine-hooked teens are continuing to get their preferred, tasty fix by substituting one-time use
flavored vapes for banned Juuls. An obscure “footnote” in FDA rules that ostensibly limit flavoring to menthol
allows disposable units offering a full range of flavors to keep being sold. Related posts
1/31/20 Georgia State Patrol’s cadet class no. 106 graduated last August. After only a couple
of months of “writing tickets and arresting drunk drivers” its thirty members have all been fired.
Why? Spurred by an outsider’s tip, a massive internal investigation revealed that during their academy days the
officers-to-be had collaborated on a demanding online test about radar enforcement, using outside help and exchanging
answers. From now on, said the agency, all exams will take place in class.
1/30/20 Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth officer who shot through a
home’s window and killed its lawful resident was indicted for murder. Summoned by a neighbor who reported an open
front door, Dean and another officer arrived during the early morning hours. A woman in the home heard the commotion,
grabbed a handgun and came to the window. Dean yelled for her to show her hands, then fired a single shot, which proved
fatal. Related posts
years after his imprisonment for a gang rape, Rafael Ruiz was exonerated with DNA evidence. He was first tied to
the crime through the victim’s erroneous identification of the apartment where her assailants lived. She then
identified him through a sloppy show-up process even though his ethnicity didn’t match. His accuser admitted that
she had been uncertain but felt “pressured” by police to make an identification. Related posts
Guantanamo, during a pretrial hearing for the five defendants, James Mitchell, one of two psychologists who designed the
CIA’s waterboarding program and helped conduct interrogations, said that he told an accused “I will cut your
son’s throat” if there was another attack and Americans were killed. He said he was given permission by a
CIA lawyer, who advised to make threats “conditional.”
1/25/20 London police announced that video cameras using real
-time facial recognition technology will be deployed around the city to help locate suspects of serious crimes as they
walk the streets. Meanwhile, concerns about privacy have led New Jersey’s attorney general to bar local prosecutors and police from using
1/24/20 Concerned about the acquisition of untraceable “ghost” guns by criminals
and terrorists, twenty States and D.C. are suing to prevent the Federal government from taking steps to reverse rules
that, as presently interpreted, forbid posting plans for 3-D printed guns on the Internet.
1/24/20 In a letter
accusing the A.I. provider of violating Twitter’s terms of service, the social media website demanded that
Clearview stop using anything on its platform and purge its files (see 1/18/20 update).
1/18/20 A 92-year
old New York City woman was raped and murdered January 6. Four days later police arrested Reeaz Khan, 21, an
illegal immigrant. ICE had filed a detainer against Khan after his arrest by NYPD in November for assaulting his
father. But New York City law
prohibits acting on detainers except for persons who have been convicted of serious crimes or whose names appear
on a terrorist database. Khan met neither criterion so police released him without notice.
Hundreds of U.S. law enforcement agencies have subscribed to Clearview, a year-old
service provider that uses proprietary A.I. technology to compare suspect photos against a rapidly-growing database
populated with millions of images drawn from websites including Facebook and YouTube. Its first successful
application for police, in February, took twenty minutes to match the face of an unidentified shooter, captured on a
bystander’s cell-phone video, to his image on social media.
1/17/20 Federal agents arrested reputed Maryland white supremacists Brian Lemley Jr.
and Garfield Bilbrough IV, both from Maryland, and Patrik Mathews, an illegal immigrant from Canada, on
conspiracy and gun charges. According to a
Federal criminal complaint, Lemley obtained an assault rifle upper receiver by mail order. He and Mathews then
used this item and other gun parts to make a machine gun, which they fired at a range. They also allegedly acquired
body armor and 1,500 rounds of ammunition. All three had intended to attend a rally in Virginia to protest its gun
laws. Related post
1/9/20 The Chicago Tribune compiled a list of sixty-two shootings and threats of shootings by Illinois
concealed-carry licensees between 2014, when the state CCW law was passed, and August 2019. For each incident it
summarized the circumstances and linked to available stories.
1/9/20 A number of LAPD officers (reportedly, more than a dozen)
assigned to its stop-and-frisk campaign have been removed from duty for purposely and incorrectly portraying persons
they stopped as gang members, thus inflating their productivity and minimizing errors.
NY Times Related posts
military student Mohammed Alshamrania, who shot and killed three and wounded eight at a
Florida naval base December 6, had two Apple iPhones. The FBI secured warrants to search the phones but found that
both are password-protected. So it’s reached out to Apple. But Apple’s long insisted it can’t
access locked phones, and has so far refused to build in a “back door.” Related posts
1/7/20 New York
City murder climbed from 293 in 2018 to 315 in 2019, a 7.5% increase. Robberies and felony assaults were also up, by
3.0 percent and 1.4 percent respectively. But property crime fell. According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the long-term downward trajectory in NYC
crime is “irreversible.” Meanwhile a 13-year old charged in the December 11 stabbing death of a New York City college student
remains in custody
while police build cases against his 13 and 14-year old companions.