Police Issues

Let's Stop Pretending
(#386, 5/3/21)

Cops can't correct what most needs fixing

Four Weeks, Six Massacres
(#385, 4/19/21)

Would stronger gun laws help? We crunch the numbers. They're not reassuring.


Two Weeks, Four Massacres
A troubled Colorado man buys a “pistol.”
Six days later ten innocents lie dead.

(#384, 4/4/21)

One Week, Two Massacres
An Atlanta man buys a pistol.
Hours later eight persons lie dead.

(#383, 3/24/21)

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
Weeks: 1   2   3   4   Verdict   Post-trial

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)


5/16/21 Soaring gunplay in Chicago’s poverty-stricken areas has left sixteen Chicago PD officers wounded during the past fifteen months. Two were shot early this morning, one critically. Their assailant, who opened fire for no explicable reason, was also wounded. That tragedy follows two days filled with gunfire, with five citizens dead and “at least fifteen” wounded.  In Los Angeles, “too many guns in too many hands” is cited as the reason why the city is experiencing a surge of violence, with 465 shootings and 115 murders thru May 4, 67 and 26 percent more than last year. New York City has also been beset by steep increases in shootings and murders. During the past month 170 citizens have been shot, the most during this period since 1997. Deaths by gunfire are also up, with 146 so far this year, compared to 115 in 2020. Related post

5/14/21 Citing a need for “space” from events including Chauvin's conviction and the recent Federal civil rights indictment of Chauvin and his colleagues, Judge Peter Cahill rescheduled the trial of former officers Lane, Kueng and Thao from this August to March 7, 2022. He also agreed to hear a defense motion that asserts a fair trial has been made impossible by the New York Times’ leak of a plea deal with Chauvin. Prosecutors have steadfastly denied being the source. Chauvin case post-trial motions

5/13/21 California Governor Gavin Newsom’s plate of education initiatives includes an initial $1 billion outlay, which would eventually increase five-fold, to fund after-school and summer enrichment and tutoring programs in “low-income communities.” Related post

An analysis of the outcomes of LAPD Board of Rights hearings, which officers facing discipline can demand, revealed that boards composed only of civilians, an option that employees have been able to choose since 2019, were substantially more likely to reduce penalties imposed by the Chief than traditional boards, which are comprised of two officers and one civilian. Related post

Chauvin's trial judge ruled that factors were present to justify the upward sentencing departure requested by prosecutors. According to a legal expert, these factors will likely increase Chauvin’s sentence from the 12 1/2 year term called for by sentencing guidelines to thirty years, with twenty served in confinement. Chauvin case post-trial motions

5/12/21 Three U.S. Army soldiers stationed at Ft. Campbell: Demarcus Adams, 21, Jarius Brunson, 22, and Brandon Miller, 22, have been arrested for gun trafficking. It’s alleged that they bought 91 guns during the past year from gun stores near their base, in Kentucky and Tennessee. Miller is accused of taking these guns to Chicago and transferring them to acquaintances. Several of the weapons were recovered from a March 26, 2021 shootout in Chicago where one was killed and seven were shot. Related post

5/11/21 Jackson County, Missouri D.A. Jean Baker joined in a motion filed by the Midwest Innocence Project to free Kevin Strickland, who has served more than forty-two years for his alleged involvement in a triple homicide. No physical evidence linked him to the crime, and a survivor who picked him out of a lineup and provided the sole basis for his conviction later insisted she did so under pressure from the police. In fact, the person for whom he was mistaken has been identified. Strickland’s alibi witnesses were ignored, as were the statements of two confessed participants who swore that he wasn’t there. Related posts 1  2

5/10/20 In Colorado Springs, during the early morning hours of Mother’s Day, a gunman burst into a mobile home where adults had gathered for a birthday party and opened fire, killing six. The shooter, reportedly the boyfriend of one of the victims, then shot himself dead. This tragedy came only six weeks after a young gunman shot and killed ten in a Boulder supermarket. Gun Massacres topic   Related posts 1 2

5/7/21 To combat the plague of unserialized, untraceable “ghost guns” ATF is seeking to do away with the “eighty-percent” rule. A proposed regulation would redefine a firearm “frame or receiver” to include “any externally visible housing or holding structure” for a “fire control component” such as the hammer or bolt. Any such housing that “has reached a stage in manufacture where it may readily be completed , assembled, converted, or restored to a functional state” would require manufacturer markings and a serial number and be subject to all the controls normally imposed on firearms. Related post

A Federal Grand jury indicted Derek Chauvin and his three colleagues, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane for violating the Federal civil rights of George Floyd, both through their actions and by failing to render aid. In addition, Chauvin is separately accused of violating the civil rights of a 14-year old whom he held “by the throat” and struck “multiple times in the head with a flashlight” in 2017. Indictment George Floyd special topic

Although the FBI and police took away his shotgun last year because of his odd behevior, Brandon Hole went on to legally purchase the two AR-15 style rifles - a Ruger AR-556 and an HM Defense HM15F - that he used in the April 15 FedEx massacre. Indianapolis’ prosecutor said he didn’t then pursue his state’s “Red Flag” law because his office did not have the time and resources to comply with the procedure’s stiff requirements. A local judge has now ordered the prosecutor to refer all such cases submitted by police. Presumably that will include the forty-five referrals officers sent in so far this year. Related cases 1  2

5/6/21 In an op-ed, sociologist Frederick H. Decker suggests that a scoring system based on a weapon’s lethality, similar to what we once endorsed, could be used to devise a “graduated firearm tax.” To avoid circumventions, such as through private sales, background checks would have to be required whenever firearms change hands. Related posts 1  2

Atlanta’s civil service board reinstated officer Garrett Rolfe. His firing, which came one day after he shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, was ruled as lacking in due process. Officer Rolfe will be on paid leave until his pending murder charges are resolved. He is yet to be indicted, as Georgia law requires for such matters to proceed. Related post

5/5/21 In a motion for a new trial, Chauvin’s lawyer argued, among other things, that the judge erred by failing to grant a change of venue and by not sequestering the jury throughout, thus exposing it to prejudicial and intimidating publicity. “The publicity here was so pervasive and so prejudicial before and during this trial that it amounted to a structural defect in the proceedings.” Eric Nelson also claims that the judge erred by not compelling Mr. Floyd’s friend to testify (he was the male passenger who supposedly removed objects from the car) and by refusing to admit into evidence his statements to police. Post-trial motions

5/2/21 Spurred by the shooting death of 13-year old Adam Toledo, Chicago PD policy under development would restrict foot chases to situations where officers have legal authority to detain or arrest. It urges them to avoid separating from partners and to use containment methods to corral fleeing subjects until additional resources arrive. Meanwhile community members remain deeply divided about the youth’s killing. While some condemn the officer’s actions, others criticize the circumstances that led a child to run around with an armed gang member at one in the morning. Related posts 1  2  3

5/1/21 They were just kind of giving us a heads up, ‘This is what he’s thinking about doing.’” That’s how North Carolina Sheriff Len Hagamana characterized recent warnings about Isaac Alton Barnes, 32, a well-armed resident of Boone whom neighbors feared was getting set to explode. But nothing was done, and on April 28 he did. Barnes’ shooting rampage took the lives of his mother and stepfather and two deputies. He committed suicide. Related posts 1  2  3  4

4/29/21 It was about 1:00 am on March 31. For unknown reasons, two Chicago police officers were furiously running after Anthony Alvarez, 22, through a residential area. Alvarez had a gun in hand. After a prolonged chase, an officer cornered Alvarez and, as he ran up some stairs, shot him dead. Video footage shows that Alvarez had just dropped his gun; as best is known, he had never pointed it at police. Related post

Posting complete designs online for 3-D printed “ghost guns” is once again legal. An injunction that prohibited it because of the risk that such weapons might be used for terrorism was challenged by a 3D company, and their position was upheld by a panel of judges from the Federal 9th. Circuit. Related post

4/28/21 Ex-Dallas cop Amber Guyger is appealing her murder conviction and ten-year sentence. In 2018 she walked into the wrong apartment after the end of a shift and mistakenly shot and killed its tenant, thinking him an intruder. Ms. Guyger claims that at most she committed negligent homicide. But prosecutors insist that “intentionally killing a man in his own apartment is murder.” Related post

Making specific reference to Breonna Taylor, the Louisville resident who was accidentally shot and killed by officers executing a search warrant at her apartment, DOJ announced it will conduct a “pattern-or-practice” investigation to determine whether Louisville P.D. uses “unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful expressive activities,” performs “unconstitutional stops, searches, and seizures, ” or “unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.” Related post

An October 2019 use-of-force that seems nearly identical to the tactics used against George Floyd led the City of San Diego to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Angel Zapata Hernandez for $5.5 million. Mr. Hernandez, a mentally disturbed 24-year old, died after two civilian transit officers placed the handcuffed man on his stomach and applied pressure with their arms and knees to his back and neck for six minutes. According to the medical examiner, the cause of death was “sudden cardiopulmonary arrest while in a prone restraint.” Heart disease was listed as “a contributing factor.” Related post

4/27/21 Following Arizona's lead, Montana enacted a law that prohibits State or local employees from assisting in the enforcement of any present or future Federal ban on firearms, magazines, or ammunition. Arizona law  Montana law  Related post

New York state requires that persons who wish to carry concealed guns apply for a license and show “proper cause.” A Federal appeals court had ruled that this restriction was valid. But on 4/26/21 the Supreme Court agreed to rule “whether the State's denial of petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated the Second Amendment.” (no. 20-843)  Related post

Chicago has sued Westforth Sports, an Indiana gun store, for “ignoring obvious signs” and selling “hundreds of guns ” to persons they knew where “straw buyers,” meaning that they were buying the guns to illegally resell. “More than forty” of these buyers were subsequently charged in Federal court for dealing guns on the street, and many of the weapons turned up in crimes.  Related post

4/26/21 Should all Capitol defendants be treated alike? Slapping down a lower court’s blanket denial of bail, an appeals panel distinguished between two types of accused: “In our view, those who actually assaulted police officers and broke through windows, doors, and barricades, and those who aided, conspired with, planned, or coordinated such actions, are in a different category of dangerousness than those who cheered on the violence or entered the Capitol after others cleared the way.”  NY Times  Capitol special topic

NYPD detective Joseph E. Franco, a veteran undercover narc, had a sterling record. Until 2019, that is, when videos showed that drug sales he “witnessed” didn’t happen. He was charged with perjury and awaits trial. Meanwhile prosecutors, having “lost faith” in the disgraced cop’s “credibility,”  are moving to dismiss about ninety convictions that resulted from his work. Related posts  1  2

George Gascon, L.A.’s new, progressively-minded D.A., halved the size of his agency’s “hardcore gang” prosecutive team. Renamed the “Community Violence Reduction Division,” it will continue to deal with “the most prolific violent offenders.” But instead of following a “purely prosecutorial model,” its arsenal of tools will now include “prevention, intervention and community involvement efforts. ” Prosecutors are objecting, and police are so far keeping mum. Related posts  1  2

4/24/21 Sheriff’s deputies attempting to serve arrest and search warrants for drug offenses on a 42-year old North Carolina man opened fire as he drove away. Andrew Brown, Jr., was killed; according from an intercepted medical transmission, from a wound to the back. Seven deputies were placed on leave. Brown, allegedly a cocaine dealer, reportedly has a substantial criminal record for drug crimes. Related posts 1 2

Each falls just short of the four deaths that a gun massacre has come to mean. Yet the residents of Austin, Texas and Kenosha County, Wisconsin were nonetheless on edge as police searched for gunmen whose “targeted” killings  left three dead and others injured in each community. Both tragedies happened during the afternoon hours of Sunday, April 18. Kenosha’s unfolded in a bar, while the Texas murders took place in an apartment complex, supposedly as result of a domestic dispute. Related post

Located in a neighborhood of “neglect” and “entrenched poverty,” a Knoxville high school has lost five students this year to gunfire. It started in January with the shooting death of a football player, and ended on April 12 with the police killing of a 17-year old who was wanted for domestic violence and reportedly fired at officers in a bathroom. During the confusion one officer reportedly wounded another. Related posts  1  2

4/21/21 One day after the conviction of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, DOJ announced that it will conduct a “patterns and practices” investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department: “The investigation will assess all types of force used by MPD officers, including uses of force involving individuals with behavioral health disabilities and uses of force against individuals engaged in activities protected by the First Amendment. The investigation will also assess whether MPD engages in discriminatory policing.”
George Floyd special topic

4/20/21 Columbus, Ohio police responded to a 9-1-1 call about an attempted stabbing. On arrival they observe Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, apparently flaunting a knife. An officer’s bodycam video (click here for an outtake) depicts her pushing one girl to the ground, then rushing at another who is by a car. An officer opens fire and shoots Ms. Bryant dead. A knife was recovered. Coming just before the Chauvin jury returned its verdict, the killing led crowds to gather in protest. State agents are investigating. Related post

According to DOJ, more than 400 residents of forty-five states have been arrested in connection with the breach on the Capitol. Of these, more than 350 face charges of trespass, and more than one-hundred are being prosecuted for assaulting Federal officers. Thirty-five face weapons charges. Click here for a list of defendants, with links to each case. Special topic: Assault on the Capitol

Indianapolis’ prosecutor said that he did not pursue his state’s “Red Flag” law against Brandon Hole because his office did not have the time and resources to comply with the procedure’s stiff requirements. Although police took his shotgun, Hole went on to legally purchase the two AR-15 style rifles - a Ruger AR-556 and an HM Defense HM15F - that he used in the April 15 FedEx massacre. Related posts  1  2

4/16/21 One day after killing Daunte Wright (see 4/12 update) Brooklyn Center, Minn. police officer Kim Potter resigned from the force. One day after that she was charged with second-degree manslaughter, a felony punishable by up to ten years imprisonment. Officer Wright, a 26-year veteran who was training new officers at the time, was released on $100,000 bail. Her chief also resigned, and the mayor fired the city manager for allegedly mishandling the citizen protests that have ensued. Related posts 1  2


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