Police Issues

Thought-provoking essays on crime, justice and policing

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"Numbers" Rule –

(#451, 7/2/24)

Production pressures
degrade what's "produced" –
and not just in policing

Is Crime Really Down?
It Depends...

(#450, 6/20/24)

Even when citywide
numbers improve, place
really, really matters

Kids With Guns
(#449, 6/3/24)

Ready access
and permissive laws
create a daunting problem

What's That?

(#448, 4/27/24)

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

Ideology (Still)
Trumps Reason

(#447, 4/9/24)

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

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

Oregon moves to
re-criminalize hard drugs

Houston, We Have
(Another) Problem

(#445, 2/28/24)

Fueled by assault rifles, murders plague the land

Wrong Place, Wrong
Time, Wrong Cop

(#444, 2/8/24)

Recent exonerees set "records"
for wrongful imprisonment

America's Violence-
Beset Capital City

(#443, 1/20/24)

Our Nation's capital
is plagued by murder

Are Civilians Too Easy
on the Police? (II)

(#442, 12/18/23)

Exonerated of murder,
but not yet done

Warning: (Frail)
Humans at Work

(#441, 11/29/23)

The presence of a gun
can prove lethal

See No Evil - Hear No
Evil - Speak No Evil

(#440, 11/14/23)

Is the violent crime problem
really all in our heads?

Policing Can't Fix
What Really Ails

(#439, 10/18/23)

California's posturing
overlooks a chronic issue

Confirmation Bias
Can be Lethal

(#438, 9/21/23)

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

When (Very) Hard
Heads Collide (II)

(#437, 9/5/23)

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

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

America’s violent atmosphere
can distort officer decisions

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

(#435, 8/1/23)

Some citizens misbehave;
some cops answer in kind

San Antonio

(#434, 7/20/23)

What poverty brings can
impair the quality of policing

Keep going...






7/12/24 Since 2015 sixteen cities and counties that form “a diverse cross- section of jails in the U.S.” have participated in CUNY’s Safety + Justice Challenge, which promotes reform-minded strategies to reduce incarceration. Its most recent report about arrests and rebookings of arrested persons, which includes data thru April 2023, reveals that “local violent crime rates varied regardless of changes to the jail population.” Only about two percent of releasees were rebooked for another violent crime, providing  reassurance that “the pandemic-era increase in violent crime was not caused by jail reduction reforms.” Related post

During the evening hours of July 10 Alameda, Calif. resident Shane Killian, 54, shot and killed his wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, and 6-year-old son. He also shot and critically wounded his one-year old son. Before succumbing, the father-in-law alerted a neighbor, who called police. Officers arrested Killian and recovered “multiple firearms.” According to neighbors, the “friendly and outgoing” family had recently moved into their home. Photographs depict it as a single-family residence in an upscale area. Related post

7/11/24 Leroy Ernest McCrary and two associates face murder charges for fatally running over the wife of a visitor from New Zealand while the couple shopped at Newport Beach, California’s tony Fashion Island. McCrary, who allegedly wanted the husband’s fancy watch, was on probation for stealing a Rolex in 2020. He also had convictions in 2023 for gun possession and robbery. These also led to probation. Prosecutors claim that the dispositions were influenced by evidentiary problems. But police vehemently disagree. According to progressive D.A. George Gascon’s forthcoming election opponent, “malpractice appears to have cost another life.”  McCrary court record   Related post

From its origins in El Salvador, MS-13 took root in Southern California. It then spread throughout the U.S. Alexi Saenz, 29, a New York City-area shot-caller, just pled guilty to a sweeping Federal indictment charging him and his associates with a litany of murders in and around the Big Apple. Among the victims were six teens, both male and female, who had “disrespected” or otherwise come into conflict with the gang. Saenz is expected to draw 40 to 70 years. His brother, the second-in-command, still faces charges. Related post

7/10/24 “Rust” set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is serving 18 months in a New Mexico jail on her conviction for felony involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Alec Baldwin, the film’s star, is now on trial for that crime. Although he denies pulling the trigger (Baldwin said the gun fired when he cocked the hammer), crew members blame him for rushing things. Might that have contributed to the failure to detect that the gun had a live round? Neal W. Zoromski, who reportedly has thirty years’ experience as a set armorer, rejected working on “Rust” because “corners were being cut.” However, the judge has prohibited prosecutors from introducing evidence that Baldwin was one of the producers or showing videos where he “profanely” pushed the crew to accelerate production. So evidence of his influence may be lacking. Related post

On July 4th. 2023 then-Northwoods, Missouri police sergeant Michael Hill dealt with an alleged problem-maker at a local Walgreens by having then-officer Samuel Davis haul him off to another town, deliver a frightful beating, and dump him on the side of the road. A passer-by soon came across the bloodied man, who told her what had just happened. He also sued. Both officers were promptly fired and charged with State crimes. They then lied to the FBI about what had taken place. DOJ has now stepped in with Federal civil-rights indictments that carry a potential life term. Related post

7/9/24 An inquiry by the Los Angeles Times reveals that so far this year LAPD officers have shot six mentally-afflicted persons who were flaunting “a sharp object”, killing four. There were a total of 11 such shootings last year. This year’s outcomes were recently addressed by the Police Commission’s vice president, who said “I want to make sure that all other efforts are exhausted before lethal force is used.” But while the article’s tone is implicitly critical of the police, it also conveys concerns about the effectiveness of less-lethal weapons such as projectile launchers. Related post

More than one-hundred shot; nineteen killed. That’s Chicago’s tally for the Thursday-Sunday July 4th. weekend. About forty-five shootings occurred on Friday alone. Mayor Brandon Johnson attributed the toll to “generations of disinvestment.” Police Supt. Larry Snelling’s reaction was less nuanced. “What we really have to think about is the brazenness and the behavior of those who could walk into a home and see children and women and open fire.” But both called for a stern response. “There will be consequences....We will not let criminal activity ruin and harm our city” said Johnson. Related post

7/8/24 It took two hours for an L.A. jury to agree that four years ago Justin Arteaga, 23, tried to prove his worthiness as a gang recruit by shooting and killing a 29-year old local resident who had “disrespected” a member of the Gardena-13 street gang. His victim, Evan Campbell, 29, was the son of retired Federal agent Lester Campbell. The elder Campbell ran out of their nearby home. He was fired on by another gang member and shot back, killing his assailant. A third gang armed member is serving a nine-year prison sentence for ex-con with a gun. Arteaga faces life without parole. Related post

A surge of gun violence over the July 4th. weekend left at least 33 dead across the U.S. More than one-third of the casualties were in Chicago, where at last count thirteen were killed. And in Detroit, an early-a.m. Sunday bloc party was convulsed by gunfire, killing two and wounding “more than a dozen.” But it’s not just the holidays. According to criminologists, “the gathering, the free time, the drinking” have always made summer months the most lethal. School’s out. With little else to do, teens easily come into conflict. Tempers also flare with the heat. That’s especially a problem in poorer areas, where “there’s nowhere to cool down and tensions rise.” Related post

“We know it’s going on throughout the nation, but this is the first time that we’ve had a mass shooting in Florence.” In a heartfelt news conference, Florence, Kentucky Police Chief Jeff Mallery described the horrors perpetrated by 21-year old Chase Garvey,  who burst into a birthday party and opened fire, killing a 44-year old householder and three guests and seriously wounding three others. Garvey, a local resident, committed suicide while being pursued. He had been convicted of felony rape and felony sodomy in 2021. Related post

Twenty-nine States allow individuals otherwise entitled to have guns to carry concealed firearms without a permit. Louisiana, the most recent “permitless carry” State, came aboard July 4th. That drove New Orleans P.D. Supt. Anne Kirkpatrick to designate the French Quarter’s police station as a “vocational training school”, since it’s used for officer training. Doing so activates a State law that forbids concealed carry within 1,000 feet of a school or training site. Legislators had refused to exempt New Orleans or the French Quarter from the new law, and they’re wary of the Superintendent’s move. Related post

7/5/24 Denver resident Kevin Bui, 20, just drew sixty years for setting a house fire that killed five members of a Senegalese family four years ago. Bui, a drug dealer, had used an online app to track his cell phone, of which he had been robbed, to the victims’ home. Bui and his two accomplices were identified by police who had Google provide IP numbers that searched for the home’s address shortly before the arson. Bui admitted that he and the others set the fire. As it turns out, it had been the wrong home. Related post

Gunfire broke out in Corryville, a Cincinnati neighborhood, during the early morning hours of July 1st. Three persons were shot dead and a fourth, who was wheelchair-bound from a prior shooting, was wounded. An unidentified armed man ran into a nearby home and was arrested. Those killed include Shawn McDaniel Sr., 45 and his son, Shawn McDaniel Jr., 22. A convicted drug dealer, McDaniel Sr. authored two graphic novels, Cincinnati Jack Boy$ and 80’s Baby, about life, drugs and death on Cincinnati streets. Related post

Suspects armed with a handgun and rifle jumped out of a car and opened fire on a home in Chicago’s poor, violence-beset Grand Crossing neighborhood. Two females, ages 42 and 22 were killed, and three children, ages 5, 7 and 8 were critically wounded. “Y’all don’t get no cool points for coming to shoot up a crib at six o’clock in the morning where nobody in the house gang affiliated, none of that,” said the older woman’s son, who was awakened by the gunfire but unhurt. A police commander suggested that the shooting stemmed from a “personal dispute.” No arrests have yet been made. Related post

As Founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK), Tamar Manasseh has watched over her corner of Chicago’s violence-beset Englewood neighborhood for a decade. But her “unspoken agreement” with gangs to hold their fire while children are about recently broke down in a hail of bullets. With city officials ignoring requests to install speed bumps and surveillance cameras, and her alderman strangely silent, she’s ready to call MASK and its Peace Academy quits. Her recent comments to Block Club Chicago did spur some calls from the Mayor’s Office. But hope for real action remains dim. Related post

7/3/24 In the 1984 Chevron case the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that judges must defer to Federal regulatory decisions that reasonably interpret the law. That decision was just overruled by Loper Bright v. Secretary of Commerce. According to the Court, even when statutes are “ambiguous,” courts must “exercise their independent judgment” when deciding whether an agency acted legally. So far, the Court has returned gun-law challenges to lower courts for more work. But gun- control advocates fear that Loper Bright will foster moves to invalidate State and Federal gun laws and ATF regulations. Related post

Situated on an ocean bluff, it doesn’t get any “tonier” than Newport Beach, Calif.’s “Fashion Island”. Nor, as shoppers discovered during a “tranquil afternoon”, more lethal. Robbers accosted an elderly couple strolling outside the exclusive stores. Shots were fired, and the assailants dragged the woman to the parking lot and fatally struck her with their car. Four suspects were arrested after a protracted air-and-ground pursuit. “This doesn’t happen in Newport Beach,” said the Mayor. “Fashion Island is an incredibly safe place. This is a tragedy, and I’m furious.” Related post

7/2/24 AR-15 style assault rifles are in the news. Santa Rosa, Calif. police officers stopped a car Saturday night for no lights. Its driver was wearing a “Jason” mask that fully covered his face. An unloaded, California-illegal Eagle Arms Eagle-15 5.56 mm. assault rifle was on the back seat. Adonay Efriem, 27, was booked for felony possession of an unregistered assault weapon. And in Illinois, the family of Eduardo Uvaldo sued Smith & Wesson, manufacturer of the M&P-15 assault rifle that Robert Crimo used in the 2022 Highland Park massacre. Mr. Uvaldo was one of seven persons who suffered fatal wounds. According to the suit, Smith & Wesson knew that their AR-15 style rifle was being used in massacres, and their sale thus constituted a “negligent entrustment” under Illinois law. Related post

7/1/24 In a new decision, the Supreme Court ruled that 18 USC 1512(c)(2), which prohibits obstructing official proceedings, is constrained by the language of section (c)(1), which applies only to someone who “alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so.” Merely crashing the Capitol isn’t enough. While no Jan. 6 rioters were reportedly charged with only (c)(2), it’s a felony, and more than two dozen are serving prison time for its violation. It also accounts for two of the four Jan. 6-related charges against ex-president Trump. Split 6-3, the decision aligned with the Court’s ideological divide, with conservatives in the majority. Fischer v. U.S.   Capitol updates   Related posts   1   2

In April 2019 DNA results that excluded Ricky Davis led an El Dorado County, Calif. judge to reverse his 2005 murder conviction. Davis was released after serving twelve years. His conviction had been enabled by testimony from a teen, Connie Dahl, that she was present when Davis, her boyfriend, killed the victim. Her account, it turns out, was coerced by police. Dahl, who served a year in prison, has since passed away. DNA identified Michael Green as the killer. He pled guilty to the murder in 2022. Innocence Project   Related post

A Federal judge placed a hold on Oklahoma HB 4156, signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, which criminalized the presence in the State of persons who illegally entered the U.S., and those who had been excluded but failed to leave. First offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine or jailing for up to one year. A second offense is a felony. That’s occasioned a lawsuit by the Justice Dept., which is challenging the law as intruding into a matter of exclusively Federal jurisdiction. Oklahoma bill   Immigration updates   Related post

Police patrolling a residential neighborhood of Utica (NY) encountered two 13-year old boys who matched the description of robbers who had struck there on the preceding day. Bodycam video shows one boy running away, then turning around with a gun in his hands and pointing it in the officers’ direction. One officer tackled the youth; another opened fire, inflicting a fatal wound. The youth’s gun was a realistic duplicate of a Glock 17 pistol. But all it could fire were “pellets or bb’s”.  Bodycam video   Related post

Detroit PD’s missteps with facial recognition technology, which led to three wrongful arrests, have resulted in a court settlement that binds the agency to implement new practices. Most importantly, images of persons ID’d through facial recognition cannot be shown to witnesses or included in photo lineups unless they are also linked to a crime in another way. Photospreads must also be shown by an officer not connected with the investigation, and displayed not in a group but one picture at a time. Related post

California has joined Colorado and New York in requiring that credit-card companies provide banks with unique codes that identify purchases at gun stores. This will enable banks to discern when customers exhibit unusual patterns, such as making large purchases at multiple gun stores during a brief period. They could then alert police, and perhaps prevent a mass shooting. But Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee and Wyoming and thirteen other “Red” states have passed laws to prohibit the practice. Related post

6/28/24 A report by the Sacramento Grand Jury criticizes police for sharing information from a county-wide network of 170 automated license plate readers. ALPR’s automatically capture images of as many as 1,800 license plates per minute. But while State law prohibits it, this data was being shared with other States and the Feds. That practice is now suspended. Police, though, say that ALPR’s have been highly useful, leading to the recovery of 495 stolen vehicles in their first month of operation. Report   Related post

Former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez, 55, will spend the next 45 years in an American Federal prison. After being extradited from his native land, where he served two terms as its top leader, Hernandez was convicted in March for drug importation and gun violations. Over two decades, Hernandez and his heavily armed cartel compatriots smuggled 400 tons of cocaine into the U.S. Hernandez’s brother and an associate have already drawn life in prison; several others are pending trial. Immigration updates   Related post

A Texas grand jury indicted former Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo on ten counts of felony child endangerment for “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, and with criminal negligence” endangering the lives of ten minors during the school shooting perpetrated by Salvador Ramos on May 24, 2022. Arredondo was faulted for his failure to follow existing protocols for active shooter incidents. Former school police officer Adrian Gonzales was also charged. Both were booked and released. Related post

6/27/24 The FBI’s switch from the UCR to the NIBRS remains a work in progress. Many agencies are yet to fully implement the new system, and crime numbers to be released this fall will be up to 18 months old. Such delays, according to the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), inaccurately depict crime trends and render data-based responses ineffective. CCJ asks that the FBI get agencies to submit crime data to cover 98 percent of the U.S. population by 2027, thus “matching the level of coverage prior to the switch”. States are asked to assure that all police agencies furnish crime data each month. CCJ Report    Related post

According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, President Biden’s recent executive order that summarily expels asylum-seekers who arrive without appointments is having its intended effect. During the past three weeks there has been a forty-percent-plus reduction in Border Patrol encounters with unauthorized immigrants. More than 100 “repatriation” flights have also returned over 24,000 persons to their home countries. But Secretary Mayorkas emphasized that executive action isn’t enough - legislation that fixes the “broken immigration system” is sorely needed. Immigration updates   Related post

Brazil just became one of about twenty countries to legalize or decriminalize recreational marijuana. Ruling on a 2009 case about a 55-year old man who was caught with three grams, its Supreme Court decided that Brazilians can possess up to forty grams, sufficient for eighty cigarettes, without incurring criminal penalties. “Thousands” of Brazilians are said to be presently in jail for having lesser amounts. Selling marijuana, though, remains illegal. A recent survey also indicates that “less than a third” of the country’s residents favor decriminalizing pot. And conservative legislators are advancing a bill that criminalizes possessing any amount whatsoever. Drug legalization updates   Related post

6/26/24 According to the Surgeon General, firearms violence is a “public health crisis” that has displaced motor vehicle deaths as the number one killer of youths thru age 19. Among its recommendations are requiring secure gun storage, implementing universal background checks that include private-party sales, “effective firearm removal policies” that keep guns away from domestic abusers and other dangerous persons, and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Its report makes no mention of ballistics or differences in ammunition lethality. Related posts 1   2

A 16-year old Chicago youth has been charged as an adult with murder for gunning down a beloved 73-year old pastor and retired police bomb technician. Only days earlier, another 16-year old Chicago boy was charged, also as an adult, with murdering a seven-year old boy. Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling beseeches parents to act promptly should their children turn to crime. “Today’s armed robber who’s 13, 14 years old is tomorrow’s murderer at the age of 15 or 16,” he warned. Related post




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