Police Issues

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...


6/3/20 Washington state legalized recreational pot in 2012. An academic study that explores police attitudes reveals that they’re not necessarily for recriminalizing it. However, officers report greater use by youth, more “drugged driving,” and a heavier workload due to more pot-related “nuisance” calls. Related post

6/3/20   Marketing practices are the focus of an FTC complaint filed by the father of a victim of the Parkland massacre. According to the action, which gun control groups also joined, Smith & Wesson sought to boost the sale of assault rifles, such as M&P-15 .223 cal. used in Parkland, by, among other things, recklessly glorifying its link to military combat rifles, which the M&P closely resembles. Related posts 1 2

5/31/20  Protest escalated, striking major cities thoughout the U.S. New York City was besieged by protests in all five boroughs, and especially in Brooklyn. Some protesters were armed with bricks and hurled molotov cocktails. Officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets as police cars burned and businesses were looted.
Related post

5/30/20 Protests over the police killing of George Floyd broke out in San Jose, Oakland and Los Angeles. Officers arrested persons besieging L.A. City Hall, then declared an unlawful assembly as protests in the downtown area deteriorated into vandalism, arson and looting by “opportunists” taking advantage of the chaos. By noon Saturday “more than 500” had been arrested. Rioting broke out in L.A.’s Fairfax district and police cars were set on fire. Related post

5/28/20 Looting, arson and rowdiness following the police killing of George Floyd escalated in Minneapolis, leading to the call-up of the National Guard. Tuesday evening a looter was shot and killed and the shooter was arrested. Major fires were set Wednesday evening, destroying thirty buildings. Looting and rock-throwing at police also broke out in St. Paul. Related post

5/27/20 Twenty-eight additional Chicagoans were shot, including at least five killed, on the day after Memorial day. Gangs and drug sales again seemed to be involved, but the victims included a 5-year old girl who was struck in the leg while standing outside a home. Related post

5/26/20 Fifty fell to gunfire in Chicago, ten fatally, during the Memorial Day weekend, considerably surpassing last year’s toll and nearly matching 2015’s appalling count, when twelve were shot dead. That led Mayor Lightfoot to “scold” her new chief, David Brown: “...what I said to the superintendent this morning is this was a fail... And whatever the strategy is, it didn’t work.” Chief Brown attributed the violence to gang rivalries and disputes over drug sales. He conceded that staffing levels had been lower than in 2019, when 1,000 extra officers were deployed. Related post

Taken by a citizen, a graphic video (click here) depicts a white Minneapolis police officer holding down a large, reportedly combative black man arrested for forgery by pressing his knee on the man’s neck. The man,  George Floyd, repeatedly complains that he can’t breathe, then falls silent. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. That happened yesterday. This morning police said the FBI would investigate. But Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey isn’t waiting for their conclusions. “Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” he said, announcing that he already fired four officers who participated in the encounter. Related post

5/18/20 A.G. William Barr revealed that after Apple refused to help, the FBI eventually managed to unlock the iPhones possessed by Mohammed Alshamrani, the Saudi military student who opened fire at Pensacola. According to Barr, Alshamrani joined the Saudi air force “to carry out a ‘special operation’” for al-Qaida and used end-to-end encryption to communicate with his handlers. Barr stated that “our national security cannot remain in the hands of big corporations who put dollars over lawful access and public safety” and that a “legislative solution” is necessary. A.G. Barr's prepared remarks Related posts 1 2

5/16/20  Chicago has had 175 homicides this year compared with 156 during the same period in 2019. Shootings have increased from 596 to 717. Chief David Brown said a “summer mobile unit” will be dealing with violence in the city’s crime-besieged South and West areas. He is also considering a city-wide “community” unit. “They could work on a Habitat for Humanity home. They could deliver meals one day a week to the seniors in the city. They could do some work with young people in the schools.” Related post

5/4/20  Recalling the 2002 gun killing of a 17-year old, and the rituals in its aftermath, Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton writes that for many of the city’s youths the coronavirus is no match for “the virus of violence, which has consumed their neighborhoods and threatens to wipe out their entire generation.” Related post

5/3/20  Teens gathered for an early-morning outdoor party in Chicago’s violence-stricken Lawndale neighborhood. About 3:30 am a car drove by. According to a ShotSpotter, it sprayed “at least 14 rounds.” Five teens, ages 15-19, were wounded and are hospitalized in fair condition. Related post

4/25/20  To combat persistently high levels of violence even during the pandemic, Chicago Chief Brown has reassigned “dozens” of officers to patrol the Harrison, Gresham, Englewood and Deering neighborhoods. Harrison, for example, has had 90 shootings this year, twenty more than at this time in 2019. Related posts 1 2

4/21/20  LAPD Chief Michel Moore said that due to budgetary constraints brought on by the pandemic, the agency’s crime analysts were discontinuing use of PredPol software. Instead, their work will now be  driven by the community-oriented SARA approach. But agency critics championed the move as a victory in their battle against the unfair targeting of minority communities. Related posts 1 2 3

4/18/20   In the New York Times, a comprehensive overview of the “Long Road to 9/11 Justice” details the struggles of bringing to trial defendants who were subject to unfathomable torture at C.I.A. “black sites” nearly two decades ago. Many prosecutors and defense attorneys have come and gone, most recently a 75-year old defense lawyer who is leaving for health reasons after serving eight years. Related post

4/18/20  U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton, who will oversee the trials of fourteen parents who allegedly bribed their kids into college, ordered prosecutors to respond to “troubling” indications that the Government tried to “suborn the commission of a crime” by forcing its principal witness, during recorded calls, to have the parents agree that their payments were intended as bribes to individuals, when their intention had actually been to support programs. IPhone notes to that effect, which were kept by the cooperating witness, Rick Singer, had been withheld from the defense. Related post

4/17/20 In testimony before the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement , a high-ranking ATF official identified “privately made firearms” as an important and “increasingly more common” gun source for criminals. Other sources mentioned included theft and straw purchase. Related posts 1 2

4/14/20 A Federal judge allowed a lawsuit to proceed against Colt Firearms and other manufacturers and retailers of the AR-15 rifles used in the Las Vegas massacre. He found that the defendants continued making and distributing AR-15’s “with a stock that can be easily removed and replaced” even though they knew that bump stocks could effectively turn AR-15’s into machineguns. Related posts 1 2

4/13/20 New York State ’s recently approved “Green Light Law,” allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver licenses and blocking ICE access to DMV records, was denounced by the Federal Law Enforcement Officer’s Association, which warns that it endangers public safety. Related post

4/12/20 Who’s afraid of coronavirus? Gun violence in Chicago is reaching new heights during the outbreak. Last Tuesday, April 7, “the deadliest day from gunfire in nearly two years,” twenty-one were shot and seven were killed. Nine more were shot and two died in a five-hour period the next day. Then another two were killed and five were wounded in seven shootings between Friday evening and Saturday morning. It all happened in Chicago’s violence -plagued inner-city, including the notorious “Englewood” district. Related posts 1 2

4/11/20 Objections by civil rights activists led a Baltimore judge to put the brakes on a test program to have small planes shoot aerial footage of the city for 40 hours per week. According to police, the results would only be used to help solve violent crimes, of which the city has in abundance. Related posts 1 2

4/9/20 A National Academy of Sciences research article challenges the validity and reliability of an FBI technique that photographically compares markings and imperfections on surfaces such as fabrics. That approach, which has become the specialty of an FBI laboratory scientist, has helped lead to convictions, including of four suspects in a series of robberies and bombings in Spokane. Related posts 1 2

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 1 2

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 2 3

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 1 2 3

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. Related post


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
Actions against officers
Effects on policy and procedure
Public reaction and police response

6/3/20 An Illinois man depicted “looting and rioting” on Internet videos was arrested in Chicago for transporting homemade bombs in his vehicle. He will face Federal charges. In a like boat are a Chicago man whom passers-by filmed torching a police car (he was wearing a “Joker” mask, but a prominent tattoo cooked his goose) and three felons whom police caught packing guns during the disorder.

With looters besieging upper-crust retail strips, New York City Mayor De Blasio extended the city’s curfew and rolled back its starting time to 8 pm. Elected officials faulted police for concentrating on demonstrations while thieves freely plied their trade. One cop likened the city to “ a war zone.

After days of looting and disorder, criticism of LAPD’s failure to restore peace brought on a more aggressive posture. Instead of letting looters do their thing, the “new approach” has officers chasing down thieves and making arrests. An assistant chief said that looting would not be tolerated. “We are doing all we can to make arrests immediately.”


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)

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


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