K-9 for a day

December 13, 2018

This article reports a new program in La Vista, Nebraska, originating in Green Bay, Wisconsin in which police take shelter dogs with them on patrol. In some cases it’s a 2nd chance/re-entry program for dogs having trouble finding owners. Police say the program “offers an opportunity to not only strengthen our relationship with our partners at the Nebraska Humane Society, but also allows our officers an opportunity to engage our community in a way that we may not have been able to without the addition of a great dog.” Successful canine adoptions have resulted.

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Fingerprints

December 10, 2018

This article recounts a 1910 case in Illinois believed to have been the first use of fingerprints to secure a conviction in a criminal case. A lot of technology has changed since then, but it still comes down to an expert’s conclusion about whether a latent print and the suspect’s print are a match. Despite scientific concerns about validity and error rates associated with expert judgments, fingerprints are still widely used in investigation and adjudication. “A hundred years is kind of an impressive run … fingerprint patterns are very information rich, you can see that there’s a lot of information packed into a small area.”

Outsourcing accident investigation

December 7, 2018

The city council in New Orleans has endorsed its police department’s plan to hire a third-party contractor to investigate non-injury traffic accidents, according to this article. The council resolution says “It’s time we strategically pivot in a way that allows us to free up existing manpower and also allows people involved in minor fender benders to move on without waiting many hours” for a police report. Data gathering and evidence collection will be done in a way that sworn investigators can follow-up cases, if needed.

Short-term results from foot patrol in San Francisco

December 6, 2018

This article reports a 17% drop in thefts and 19% drop in assaults in San Francisco following reassignment of 69 officers to foot patrol in 2017. The main target was thefts, especially from autos, which had nearly doubled since 2010, from 2,100 per month to over 4,000, with a very low clearance rate. Analysis by UC-Berkeley documented the decline in offenses over the first few months of the initiative, while controlling for other variables. However, “the additional foot patrols didn’t impact the city’s other most-frequently reported crime categories, including robbery, burglary … vandalism and vehicle theft.”

NYPD improves victim services

December 4, 2018

This article describes enhancements that NYPD has made to victim services over the last 4-5 years. The agency has adopted 101 initiatives “infused with trauma-informed practices, a raft of changes in police training, and an overriding goal to connect more victims with available counseling and reimbursement for funerals, medical costs, lost wages, and other disruptions in their lives.” Many of the practices are cost-free, with one exception being the addition of two victim advocates to each precinct and public housing unit.

Policing & higher education

December 3, 2018

The UK is engaged in a vigorous debate over whether to begin requiring university education for police. Some in the police think the country’s College of Policing has been pushing the academic agenda too hard, at the expense of recognizing the skills and experience obtained within the profession. This brief essay reviews the arguments, urging both sides to focus on “the value and worth that external formal recognition can add onto the complex work that police officers and staff do on a daily basis” while also giving “policing professionals … a greater say in shaping their own policing context.”

Use of Force in New Jersey

December 1, 2018

News media in New Jersey obtained over 72,000 documents from the state’s 469 police departments for the years 2012-2016 to compile what it calls a “comprehensive statewide database of police use of force.” According to the authors, “No one has ever seen data like this in New Jersey. Not the attorney general, not county prosecutors and not local police departments. And that’s because, though it was available for the taking, no one ever collected and digitized it as originally envisioned, rendering it nearly useless.” Initial findings are available here, along with a searchable database, and  a series of articles are forthcoming.

Civil rights officers in Massachusetts

November 27, 2018

The Massachusetts governor is encouraging departments to adopt 4 recommendations made by the state’s hate crimes task force, as reported here. To improve reporting, agencies are asked to designate one of more “civil rights officers” as point persons to “serve as a community liaison and to participate in appropriate community outreach, to review incident reports for potential hate crimes, and to serve as a resource for your agency on any issues related to hate crimes.” Adoption of the IACP model policy, UCR reporting through NIBRS, and enhanced training are also recommended.

How psychology affects police investigation

November 23, 2018

This site has 7 brief videos that explain how the brain and human psychology affect perception and memory, leading to such problems as tunnel vision, confirmation bias, and false confessions. Produced by the Innocence Project in cooperation with IACP, the videos feature noted scientists and expert practitioners. For police, “The films are not intended to serve as an entire training but rather as a tool to demonstrate these phenomena in the context of a larger training session.”

Parkland shooting review

November 22, 2018

This article reports on the commission looking into police response to the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The Broward Sheriff’s on-scene commander has resigned and a sergeant has been placed on restricted administrative assignment. Both reportedly failed to take prompt action in the active-shooter situation. Additional deputies on the scene “were reported to have taken cover while Coral Springs officers ran into the building.”