Police Issues


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)



But is it Really Satan?
A Sheriff’s lament reflects the hopelessness of urban decay

(#357, 5/25/20)


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)



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
Accurate information can provoke
lethal errors
(#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...

 


8/12/20 In the Los Angeles Times, a profile of two brothers, Gadseel and Jose Quiñonez, who are among the persons the three LAPD Metro officers are accused of falsely labeling as  gang members. Both are employed, and neither was ever in a gang. They’ve given their stories to internal affairs. Related posts 1 2

8/11/20 Seattle police chief Carmen Best “abruptly” announced her retirement. Her decision, she said, was influenced by the City Council’s move, without her input, to promptly cut 100 officers from the agency. Staff salaries are also being slashed, and a fifty-percent reduction in funding is being considered. AG William Barr issued a statement regretting her departure: “In the face of mob violence, she drew the line in the sand and said, "Enough!", working tirelessly to save lives, protect her officers, and restore stability to Seattle.” He was apparently referring to the resumption of policing in the Capitol Hill area, where police coverage was discontinued at the Mayor’s direction until violence forced cops to return. Related posts 1 2

8/10/20 In Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood officers shot and wounded an armed man whom they say fired at them. That led to an overnight cascade of looting, broken windows, fires and shootings in the city’s downtown. Thirteen officers suffered injuries and more than one-hundred arrests were made. Merchants criticize authorities for lacking “an effective strategy” to counter the repeated unrest. Related posts 1 2

8/9/20 Twenty were wounded and a 17-year old was killed when disputants opened fire at a large social gathering in Washington D.C.’s poverty-stricken Greenway neighborhood. Among the wounded was an off-duty police officer, who was left in critical condition. As of 8/7 D.C has had 115 homicides, a 17 percent increase from last year, itself reportedly a decade high. Related post

Anxieties brought on by the coronavirus lockdown are helping recreational marijuana sales “soar” in Illinois. Preexisting users are turning to pot more frequently. Thanks to the Governor’s labeling of dispensaries as “essential,” the State also profits. In the Tribune’s long article, there’s no mention of pot’s use by teens, nor of any possibly negative health consequences. Related post

A Chicago PD detective opened a Gofundme campaign to help finance Tavon Tanner’s high school tuition. (See next update.)

8/8/20 Four years ago, when Chicago’s Tavon Tanner was sitting on the porch, someone “sprayed the house with bullets.” He’s now fourteen, and his near-fatal physical wounds still cause searing pain. Thanks to concerned detectives and a real estate agent, he and his mother moved to a far safer neighborhood. Detectives urged Tayvon to consider going to a well-regarded parochial high school, and they’re looking to help him get there. Related post

An LAPD SWAT Sergeant is suing the city alleging that he was transferred to a less desirable post because he had filed internal complaints alleging that excessive force was being used and that it was encouraged by a “SWAT Mafia” that belittled deescalation and expected officers to ignore regulations. Related post

Agents investigating a sinkhole found what a U.S. border patrol chief describes as “the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history.” Stretching from San Luis, Arizona to a neighborhood in Mexico, the reinforced, 3 foot X 4 foot tunnel sported rail tracks, ventilation, water and electricity. Related post

Illegal crossing into the U.S. has “soared,” with the number of arrests more than doubling. Migrants say that a COVID-19 policy that swiftly boots them out prompts them to rapidly try again: “what’s encouraging us now is that because of the pandemic, they are letting us go quickly.” In March the CDC ordered the border patrol to bypass detention and immediately expel illegal crossers. Related post

8/7/20 Small business owners who endured a city-ordered police withdrawal from their six-block stretch of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood during the height of the George Floyd protests are suing the city, claiming “enormous property damage and lost revenue.”  What they and others experienced as armed, self-anointed posses took over is described in a New York Times piece that questions police defunding. Related post

8/6/20 DOJ announced that Memphis and St. Louis are joining Operation Legend. Among other grants, Memphis is getting $9.8 million to hire 50 officers, and $1 million is going to St. Louis to help with investigations and gunfire alert (“shot spotter”) technology. Related post

Sparked by a heavy coronavirus toll, California is releasing as many as 17,600 prison inmates, far more than was originally planned, and including some convicted for violent crimes. That’s drawing criticism from prosecutors and police, who fear the risks to the public. Probation officials admit that providing adequate re-entry resources and proper supervision will pose a “tough, tough challenge.” Related post

LAPD officers dispatched to a residence found a suicidal man flaunting scissors. There were other occupants and a Rottweiler. One officer opened fire, possibly at the dog. A round struck a colleague in the wrist, causing minor injuries. Related post

After a deal was reached to protect Portland’s Federal courthouse complex with State troopers instead of Federal agents, the violence downtown has subsided. But demonstrators have moved their attention elsewhere, leading to repeated clashes with police. Police chief Chuck Lovell, who criticized the violence as a distraction from needed social reforms in a New York Times op-ed, bemoaned its effects on his “beautiful, vibrant city”: “This movement is very powerful, and I feel like the violence has taken away from it in a really kind of concerning way.” Related posts 1 2

8/5/20 Although some Black residents of Minneapolis’ violence-impacted areas agree that officers mistreat Blacks, they oppose defunding. “What are they suggesting would be the answer if we didn’t have police?” asks a woman whose mother fell to a criminal’s bullets. Another, who lost her brother to gunplay, suggests that a  “community council” could provide oversight. Related posts 1 2

New York’s mayor and police commissioner blame a sharp increase in murders and shootings on the release of potentially dangerous inmates and arrestees because of the pandemic, and on officer shortages caused by the need to police demonstrations prompted by the killing of George Floyd. But a New York Times analysis using NYPD data attributes the cause to a sharp decrease in gun arrests. Related posts 1 2

At least sixteen episodes of “weapon confusion,” when a gun is deployed instead of a Taser, have reportedly taken place since 2001. Errors such as these are known by psychologists as “slip and capture.” They can be caused by “switching to a new tool or process after significant training and/or experience with an ergonomically similar but functionally different tool or process.” Taser’s redesign to make it distinctly different from a handgun is urged. Related posts 1 2

Chicago police are quickly turning over felons caught with guns to ATF agents brought in under “Operation Legend.” Federal penalties feature longer terms, and release requires that at least 85 percent of a term be served, avoiding what some consider the state’s “revolving door.” Related posts 1 2

8/4/20 Three decades of lawsuits alleging various forms of misconduct by members of L.A. Sheriff’s deputy cliques have cost the county $55 million. An overturned murder conviction of a man who spent 20 years in prison reportedly because of pressures placed on witnesses by the “Vikings” was, at $10.1 million, the largest payout. In 2018 the county paid $1.5 million to the family of a man shot and killed by a deputy who allegedly falsely denied being a member of the “Regulators.” Related post

A 2018 YouGov nationally representative survey of 1,100 adults about regulating firearms lethality revealed considerable overall support for banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks. However, Republicans, conservatives, gun owners and, especially, NRA members were far more likely to consider mass shootings as “the price of liberty.” Related posts 1 2

8/3/20 Five L.A. residents who claim that LAPD officers falsely labeled them as gang members have sued the city. One is a former state corrections officer who said she lost her position over the label. Another said officers made up his gang membership to boost their claim that he had committed a shooting. But video showed he had been elsewhere and he was acquitted. Related posts 1 2

7/31/20   St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell, who is Black and was elected on a reform platform in 2018, announced that after a thorough investigation his office would not charge former Ferguson police officer Wilson with a crime, as it could not prove to a legal certainty that he did not act in self-defense when he shot and killed Michael Brown in 2014. But Bell said the shooting could have been avoided had the officer acted differently. Officer Wilson, who resigned three months after the shooting, had already been exonerated by the U.S. Justice Department, and a grand jury under Bell’s predecessor refused to indict. Related posts 1 2

Only days after he “anonymously” reported one colleague for assaulting another, an L.A. Sheriff’s deputy says he received a text message labeling him a “rat.” That’s how the “Executioners,” a Compton station deputy clique that sports Nazi imagery, allegedly began their harassment campaign. They’re also accused of setting arrest quotas and using “slowdowns” to enforce their will with superiors. Related post

7/28/20 “Hundreds” of cases  investigated by the three LAPD officers accused of lying about field interviews are under review. “More than 750 defendants” are being notified; incarcerated persons are getting priority. Related posts 1 2

LAPD’s “Community Safety Partnership,” an intensive community-building effort that fields 100 officers in nine inner-city neighborhoods, is being expanded into an agency-wide bureau with its own deputy chief. Its move is being criticized by protest groups as insufficient and misdirected:  “This is not a program that needs to be operated by armed, sworn police officers.” Related posts 1 2 3

7/25/20 It was the evening of July 3rd. 2020. In L.A.’s Florence neighborhood a Black youth left for the store. Neighbors later knocked on his parents’ door. They saw his sneakers on the body of a boy who was shot dead nearby. Otis Williams was fourteen. He was tall and well-mannered but didn’t like school. Related posts 1 2

After nearly two months of rowdy protests by mostly “white faces” pumping fists under Black Lives Matter banners, a Black transplant from the East jokes about the imbalance: “There are more Black Lives Matter signs in Portland than Black people.” But the local NAACP leader called actions such as the vandalism of the Federal courthouse a “spectacle” that hurts the prospects for true reform. Related post

7/24/20 Smuggling gangs are using portable power tools to breach new sections of the border wall, “opening gaps large enough for people and drug loads to pass through.” One problem is that the vertical sections (“bollards”) are attached only at the top, so the bottoms can be more easily pushed aside. Related post

In 2019 Colorado prosecutors declined to charge a Rifle officer who fatally shot a man in the back. Armed with a handgun and apparently suicidal, Allan George, 58, was running away from officers who sought to arrest him on a child pornography warrant. According to the D.A., George, who was once convicted of child exploitation, was heading towards a populated area, giving “reason to believe that [he] might...take cover and at some point, engage the officer or others with his handgun.” One month ago Colorado prohibited officers from using deadly force “unless there is proof of imminent threat of danger and there is a substantial risk that the suspect will hurt others.” George’s survivors are suing. Related post

Operation Legend,”a DOJ initiative, is sending dozens of Federal investigators from various agencies to help police in violence-besieged Chicago, Kansas City and Albuquerque combat “gangs, narcotics traffickers, violent offenders, and firearms traffickers.” Funds are also being provided to hire  officers in Kansas City and Albuquerque and to compensate Chicago for police overtime and other costs. Related post

In Chicago, fifteen persons gathered outside a youth’s funeral in the violence-stricken Gresham neighborhood were wounded in a gang drive-by. Some of those in attendance fired back.
Related post

7/23/20 Hasher Taheb was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for what the Attorney General termed  an “attempted attack on the White House.” According to the AG, Taheb was arrested at “a pre-arranged location where he expected to obtain semi-automatic assault rifles, explosive devices, and an anti-tank weapon.” It’s not mentioned, but his source and long-time mentor was the FBI. Related post

7/20/20 The National Institute of Justice has rated “Geographically Focused Policing Initiatives” (such as hot spots) that increase police activity in high-crime areas as “promising” in reducing crime. Related posts 1 2 3

7/19/20 An op-ed in The Washington Post challenges the conclusion by the American College of Emergency Physicians that excited delirium is real. It calls the syndrome “pseudoscience” that police use as a “convenient scapegoat” to justify killings that disproportionately victimize Black men. Related post

7/14/20 NIJ’s assessment of HOPE, a stern version of probation with close monitoring and consequences for even minor infractions, found that it did not reduce “number of arrests, revocations and time to first arrest.” However, HOPE participants were more likely to be reconvicted. Related post

7/13/20 President Trump sent a sneering letter to the Mayor of Chicago and the Governor of Illinois criticizing their failure to bring down the violence despite the “millions” of Federal dollars spent each year to help police Chicago. According to the Chicago Tribune, he threatened during a White House session “to go in and take over” if the shootings, which he called “worse than a war zone,” continue. Related post

It was “another violent weekend” in Chicago, with sixty shot, of whom “at least” ten died. Among those killed was a 15-year old boy who fell near the place where his brother was shot dead three months ago, and a woman attending an outdoor memorial for a man killed two years earlier. A special police unit was recently formed to deal with these “flareups.” Addressing concerns about past abuses, Chief Brown said it was modeled on a community-minded unit used in Dallas, where he was the chief. Related post

Shootings in New York City are way up, with 585 as of July 5th. compared with 381 during the same period in 2019. Among the most recent victims are a one-year old, shot dead during a late-evening Brooklyn cookout by “two gunmen, dressed all in black.” Three adults were also left wounded. Related post

7/10/20 A massive criminal complaint (click here) charges three officers in LAPD’s Metro unit with falsifying official records by falsely claiming that persons they had stopped were gang members or associates. Related posts 1 2 3 4 5

The L.A. County Coroner released the full autopsy of Andres Guardado. It confirmed that all five bullets entered his back. No drugs were detected in his blood or urine. Related post

7/9/20 Louis Lane, 31, was fired from his Red Bluff (Calif.) Walmart job in 2019 for not showing up. On June 27 he returned armed with an “AR-type” rifle and opened fire, killing one and wounding four before police shot him dead. In 2018 his “suspicious behavior” in the parking lot of a Nevada airport led police to detain him. Officers found a loaded pistol in his waistband and a 7.62mm rifle and “numerous” loaded magazines in his vehicle. But he avoided becoming a felon. A felony concealed weapons charge was dismissed and he pled guilty to misdemeanor under the influence (he had reportedly been using meth and alcohol). Related post

Despite coronavirus, violence in crime-plagued Kansas City is up. As of July 7, there have been 100 murders, forty percent more than at this time last year. The Department of Justice is responding with “Operation Legend,” a multi-agency targeted approach. Related post

Transcripts of police body-cam footage reveal that Minneapolis PD officer Thomas Lane voiced concern that George Floyd was suffering from “excited delirium or whatever.” Officers summoned an ambulance early during the struggle but confusion about their location and the urgency caused a delay. Related posts 1 2

 



Punishment Isn't a Cop's Job
An officer metes out his brand of discipline. He then faces
society’s version.
(#358, 6/3/20)



All updates
Case against officers
Crime and policing in Minneapolis
Crime and policing elsewhere


8/11/20 Seattle police chief Carmen Best “abruptly” announced her retirement. Her decision, she said, was influenced by the City Council’s move, without her input, to promptly cut 100 officers from the agency. Staff salaries are also being slashed, and a fifty-percent reduction in funding is being considered. AG William Barr issued a statement regretting her departure: “In the face of mob violence, she drew the line in the sand and said, "Enough!", working tirelessly to save lives, protect her officers, and restore stability to Seattle.” He was apparently referring to the resumption of policing in the Capitol Hill area, where police coverage was discontinued at the Mayor’s direction until violence forced cops to return.

8/7/20 Although the Feds pulled back, serious disorder continues to beset Portland. Despite pleas for calm from the Black police chief and the mayor, who frets that the disorder will help re-elect the President, “The Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front,” a youth group that demands no police or prisons, vandalized the exterior of a precinct house. One officer was reportedly seriously injured.

Small business owners who endured a city-ordered police withdrawal from their six-block stretch of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood during the height of the George Floyd protests are suing the city, claiming “enormous property damage and lost revenue.”  What they and others experienced as armed, self-anointed posses took over is described in a New York Times piece that questions police defunding. Related post

8/5/20 Although some Black residents of Minneapolis’ violence-impacted areas agree that officers mistreat Blacks, they oppose defunding. “What are they suggesting would be the answer if we didn’t have police?” asks a woman whose mother fell to a criminal’s bullets. Another, who lost her brother to gunplay, suggests that a  “community council” could provide oversight. Related post

New York’s mayor and police commissioner blame a sharp increase in murders and shootings on the release of potentially dangerous inmates and arrestees because of the pandemic, and on officer shortages caused by the need to police demonstrations prompted by the killing of George Floyd. But a New York Times analysis using NYPD data attributes the surge to a sharp decrease in gun arrests. Related posts 1 2

7/27/20 Demonstrations inspired by the killing of George Floyd turned rowdy in several cities. In Seattle protesters torched a Starbucks and damaged a police station. Police arrested 45 and 21 officers were injured. Oakland’s police headquarters suffered broken glass and vandalism and small fires broke out in the city’s downtown, including at the courthouse. Protesters threw objects at police in Richmond and set a truck on fire. A Baltimore police union building was defaced with graffitti. And in Portland, the protests’ epicenter, Federal agents continued tangling with persons who seem determined to set the U.S. courthouse ablaze.

7/21/20 A Chicago Tribune review of homicide trends paints a disturbing picture. Chicago had 260 murders in 2019 through July 12. This year the toll is 385, a 48 percent increase. Murder is also up elsewhere: 23 percent in New York City, 21 percent in Philadelphia and 13 percent in Los Angeles.

Violence is up substantially in Minneapolis, with twice as many homicides and twenty percent more violent crimes year-to-date compared with the same period last year (click here for the portal.) Officers widely report being demoralized and many are planning to leave the force. A council member who supports defunding said that any transition would be gradual. “I would prefer that people don’t resort to those extreme decisions of quitting or collecting a paycheck but not responding to calls.”

7/18/20 A New York Times profile of Derek Chauvin paints him as a “quiet and rigid workaholic with poor people skills and a tendency to overreact” whom other officers tended to avoid.

7/17/20 Charges against former Las Cruces, N.M. officer Christopher Smelser were upgraded from manslaughter to second-degree murder after an autopsy revealed that a fleeing man’s death was caused by a “lateral vascular neck restraint” and the presence of meth. Smelser was recorded warning the man, who was wanted for probation/parole violation, “I'm going to (expletive) choke you out.”

7/12/20 A citizen’s video depicts three Allentown, Pennsylvania police officers holding down a large man on his stomach on the sidewalk in front of a hospital while a nurse stands by. As one of the officers applies handcuffs he places a knee across the man’s neck and leans in.

7/11/20 A Minneapolis lawyer announced that 150 of the city’s 850 police officers are filing for disability, mostly as result of PTSD they say was brought on by the protests. Seventy-five have reportedly already left. Disability confers 60 percent of salary as long as a condition persists.

7/3/20 In the New York Times, a searching account of Minneapolis’ troubles before George Floyd, the violence that erupted when he was killed, the looting and burning of the neighborhood where the abandoned precinct stood, and the questions left in the aftermath, including whether the city should have relinquished control.

7/1/20 Facing a COVID-caused economic crunch and demands to defund the police, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-2 to cut LAPD’s 1.8 billion budget by $150 million, “far short” of what activists want. Its move, which was opposed by the president of a property owners association, will make funds available for “hiring programs and summer youth jobs” in “disenfranchised” neighborhoods.

Seattle police moved in force to retake the “Capitol Hill” area from a large group of protesters who had occupied the zone for three weeks, deploying their own security and causing officers to abandon the local precinct station and suspend regular patrols. Ordered by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the move followed an upsurge in violent crime, including four shootings that killed two black teens and wounded a 14-year old and an adult. Police chief Carmen Best (she is black) said “enough is enough. Two African American men are dead, at a place where they claim to be working for Black Lives Matter.”

6/30/20 In the New York Times, an extensive inquiry into seventy police in-custody deaths during the last ten years where the decedents complained they couldn’t breathe. Many (but not all) the arrestees had been forcibly restrained, most often by being placed on their stomachs, had drugs in their system, and suffered from serious health issues.

Floyd’s final, full autopsy report indicates that a wide assortment of drugs were in his system, including “Fentanyl 11 ng/mL, Norfentanyl 5.6 ng/mL, 4-ANPP 0.65 ng/mL, Methamphetamine 19 ng/mL, 11-Hydroxy Delta-9 THC 1.2 ng/mL; Delta-9 Carboxy THC 42 ng/mL; Delta-9 THC 2.9 ng/mL, Cotinine positive,  Caffeine positive.” His blood was free of alcohol. Urine was “presumptive positive for cannabinoids, amphetamines, and fentanyl/metabolite” and “morphine (free) 86 ng/mL.”

6/27/20 In the New York Times, a probing portrait of Alex Kueng, the black rookie who was arrested in Floyd’s death. Now out on bail, ex-cop Kueng faces the wrath of both friends and family members.

As hooliganism, violence and gunplay worsen in Minneapolis, residents complain they’re seeing a far less robust police response. A local activist faults the city council’s move to dismantle the agency for discouraging citizens from reporting crime and for emboldening lawlessness.

6/26/20 A Hispanic NYPD officer was charged with violating a new, felony law that bans ”strangulation” for applying a banned chokehold to a mentally ill black man, allegedly causing him to temporarily lose consciousness. Four years ago the officer was acquitted of pistol-whipping a youth.

Tucson police released a two month-old bodycam video that depicts three officers holding down a handcuffed, 27-year old mentally distraught man on his stomach as he begs for water and says he can’t breathe. Police had been called to the home by the man’s grandmother. The man died at the scene. Cause of death was “sudden cardiac arrest, with physical restraint by officers and cocaine intoxication as contributing factors.” The officers resigned; the chief offered to step down but remains on the job.

6/25/20 Los Angeles is struggling to “reimagine” policing. A city council proposal to take $133 million from LAPD was ridiculed by protesters who want its $3 billion budget slashed by ninety percent. Meanwhile the city’s school board can’t decide whether and how much to cut its 366-officer school police, which critics accuse of making black students feel like criminals.

6/22/20 A group of civil rights organizations has filed a massive lawsuit accusing LAPD of excessive force, including needlessly using clubs and firing non-lethal projectiles, to disperse and arrest persons who were protesting a recent spate of police shootings of black men. Plaintiffs also accuse LAPD Chief Michel Moore of ordering roundups despite knowing the risks posed by coronavirus in crowded lockups.

6/21/20 Floyd’s 2004 drug sales conviction was based on the testimony of a black narcotics detective, since retired, who is being investigated for falsifying his work, leading to a 2019 raid that went murderously astray. More than one-hundred prior cases are under review and will likely be dismissed.

6/19/20 Prompted by the killing of George Floyd, the IACP has issued “position papers” that address reforming police procedures, increasing the number of minority officers, reducing the use of force, and improving officer accountability. It suggests, among other things, that all agencies adopt national standards on use of force, discipline and termination, and participate in a national officer decertification database. While the IACP endorses more social spending, it opposes taking that money from the police. It also opposes reducing “qualified immunity” protections that officers presently enjoy. (Paper 1  2  3  4)

6/19/20 Police departments from Phoenix to Miami are banning chokeholds and neck restraints. Many agencies are also implementing policies requiring that officers intervene when colleagues are using excessive force. In Cambridge, cops who don’t will be subject to prosecution.

6/17/20 President Trump signed the “Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities” that seeks to enhance policing, improve officer-citizen relations and prevent misuse of police authority. For more details click here

6/15/20 The Department of Justice launched the “Civil Rights Reporting Portal,” an online aid to help victims report civil rights violations. It’s in English and Spanish, with more languages to soon be added.

 



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)

COVID-19: R.I.P. Policing?
Crime-fighters confront the challenges
of coronavirus
(#350, 3/17/20)



All updates
Police operations
Enforcing compliance
Crime, courts, corrections
Fraud


8/12/20 A civil restraining order shut down three-hundred websites operated by three residents of Vietnam that offered goods such as sanitizer in shortage because of the pandemic. According to DOJ it was all a big lie. Victims in all fifty states sent in payments but got nothing. Charges are anticipated.

8/10/20 Contact tracers in L.A. County despair that more than one-third of those identified as having had contact with an infected person don’t answer the phone. And over half of those who are reached refuse to cooperate. One reason is the job or income loss of isolation. Some also fear deportation.

8/8/20 Despite its location in a California region hit hard by the virus, Atwater, a town of 30,000, is holding fast to its “sanctuary city” resolve to let businesses remain fully open despite the Governor’s orders. Ditto Coalinga, a town of 16,000. So the Governor is threatening to pocket their full share of Federal emergency funds. Atwater’s mayor (his city has already lost $64,833) calls it “bullying.”

8/6/20 Five residents of Georgia, Ohio and California were charged with obtaining over $4 million of forgivable PPP loans by making fraudulent claims about their businesses and payrolls, then using the proceeds to engorge their personal bank accounts and purchase luxury vehicles and jewelry.

A Florida talent manager and eight residents of Ohio and Florida who were promised kickbacks for their help were charged in a vast scheme that fraudulently sought $24 million in forgivable PPP loans from financial institutions throughout the U.S.Sparked by a heavy coronavirus toll, California is releasing as many as 17,600 prison inmates, far more than was originally planned, and including some convicted for violent crimes. That’s drawing criticism from prosecutors and police, who fear the risks to the public. Probation officials admit that providing adequate re-entry resources and proper supervision will pose a “tough, tough challenge.” Related post

8/5/20 New York’s mayor and police commissioner blame a sharp increase in murders and shootings on the release of potentially dangerous inmates and arrestees because of the pandemic, and on officer shortages caused by the need to police demonstrations prompted by the killing of George Floyd. But a New York Times analysis using NYPD data attributes the cause to a sharp decrease in gun arrests. Related posts 1 2

8/3/20 DOJ has established a Fraud Awareness Resources page that categorizes and describes a wide variety of COVID-19-related schemes.

7/29/20 Major retailers such as Walmart have posted signs requiring that customers wear masks and have designated employees to enforce the rule. But noncompliant customers abound, and the risks of a confrontation mean they’re usually allowed to shop.

In April a Federal court enjoined a Utah man and his companies, “My Doctor Suggests” and “GP Silver” to stop promoting silver particles as a cure and preventive for a coronavirus infection. Their assets were also frozen pending a hearing. He’s now been indicted for fraud.

7/27/20 Federal agents arrested a Florida man who obtained $3.9 million in forgivable PPP loans by making false claims about his companies and payrolls. He allegedly used the proceeds to buy a Lamborghini and go on a splurge in Miami Beach.

7/20/20 Florida teacher unions sued to block the State Education Commissioner’s July 6 emergency order, which requires local schools to offer in-person instruction to all families who desire it.

7/18/20 Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms, who has herself contracted COVID-19, imposed rules that require mask-wearing in public. Her move brought on a legal challenge from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, whose state is in the grips of a “soaring” number of infections. Governor Kemp said that mandatory masks threaten citizens’ livelihoods and that he is the one to set rules during the pandemic.

7/17/20 Facing pushback from county sheriffs, who say their deputies will not be enforcing it, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson conceded that his day-old order requiring mask-wearing in public places, on penalty of being cited, is ultimately for localities to implement as they choose.

Despite a surge of infections in Orange County many residents of the conservative California  enclave pooh-pooh masks. A reporter found that “almost no one” on the beach was masked. “It’s a hoax” said one. “A lot of these cases are people eating bad seafood and drinking contaminated water.”

7/16/20 A California man was charged with obtaining $8.5 million in PPP loans from different institutions by filing documents that faked the payroll and expenses of various companies. He allegedly used the ill-gotten funds to play in the stock market and subsidize a casino habit.

7/13/20 Billing himself as a constitutionalist concerned with civil liberties, Van Buren County (Mich.) Sheriff Dan Abbott said his agency would leave enforcement of the Governor’s social-distancing orders to the State Police. But his deputies will escort disorderly persons from businesses if necessary.

7/11/20 California plans to release 8,000 state prison inmates in two waves. All are serving time for non-violent crimes and have at most less than one year remaining in their terms. Its move, according to Governor Gavin Newsom, was prompted by COVID-19’s heavy toll. Thus far coronavirus has infected 2,400 inmates system-wide, including 1,314 at San Quentin (see 6/30 update.)

7/8/20 The Florida family that was ordered to stop marketing a dangerous cure (see Fraud, 4/17) was charged with Federal crimes after sending the court a letter refusing to comply and threatening the judge with the “second amendment.”

7/8/20 Although police say they sent it a letter demanding compliance, a popular Huntington Beach (Calif.) restaurant refuses to require that diners wear masks. Its position is supported by many residents and local politicians, whose attitudes reportedly led the county’s health officer to resign.

7/7/20 In May Merced County (Calif.) Sheriff Vernon Warnke announced he would not enforce the governor’s stay-at-home order because it would cause an economic disaster and make citizens “dependent.” With cases now surging he is imploring everyone to “wear your masks, do your social distancing, wash your hands. Please take it seriously.”

7/5/20 Even as COVID-19 rips through West Texas, many ignore their governor’s latest order to shut nonessential businesses and don masks. An Odessa bar owner who defied an earlier closure is doing it again. “My bartenders can’t feed their families...We’re having people survive...Let’s just let this run its course.” A county commissioner echoed his constituents’ views:  “You don’t get to tell me what to do.”

7/4/20 California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he was assembling state “strike teams” that include the Highway Patrol to enforce his June 18 order that closed bars and restaurants in nineteen counties where COVID-19 had surged. State action seemed necessary because sheriffs of Sacramento, Riverside and Los Angeles counties said they would not enforce his order. Gov. Newsom had already implored residents of these counties to wear masks in public as the order also requires. As to that, some localities agreed to help. In L.A. County, the West Hollywood sheriff’s station warned that first-time offenders will get a $300 civil citation; in Santa Monica tickets will start at $100.

7/1/20 Robberies by mask-wearers has become a national problem. Facing a fifty-percent surge in robberies, police in Santa Ana, Calif. blame the use of facial coverings as well as the early release of inmates from local jails.

6/30/20 A Seattle doctor was charged with submitting applications for over $3 million worth of paycheck protection loans by misrepresenting the size of his staff and concealing his criminal record.

More than a thousand inmates and 102 jailers have been infected at California’s San Quentin prison. The institution, which houses 3,500, has also suffered its first death, of an elderly death-row inmate.  Its infections - and those at other prisons - reportedly stem from within-system transfers that went wrong. Many inmates are being treated at overflowing local hospitals, and the Governor has pledged to release several thousand inmates from across the system to ease the burden.

Scammers posing as coronavirus contact tracers are reportedly using personal information they collect to commit financial frauds. According to the FBI that’s also one of the objectives of phony antibody testers. Another is to simply get paid for bogus results.

6/28/20 In rural California, many residents are ignoring the Governor's recent order to wear a mask in public spaces. Ditto store owners, who balk at requiring it of their customers. It’s partly due to rural culture, which is politically conservative and prizes individualism, and partly resentment at being told what to do. “The deal is, you have no right to tell me I have to wear a mask. I’m an American. … I refuse to bow to anybody.”

6/27/20 As businesses reopen to the public, infections and hospitalizations have surged. Faced with “scofflaws” who refuse to follow the rules, some California localities are toughening their stance. In the San Diego area, a restaurant that ignored a sheriff’s visit and continued to let employees go without masks, and a popular bar that let mask-less customers mingle freely have both been shut down.

6/26/20 The Department of Justice filed a “statement of interest” in support of a Federal lawsuit that challenges Hawaii’s decision to force visitors to self-quarantine for two weeks as unduly discriminatory. Here the visitors are residents of California and Nevada who own property in Hawaii.

 

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