Shooting to incapacitate

May 17, 2021

The police department in LaGrange, Georgia has trained its officers to shoot to incapacitate in situations where deadly force is justified but circumstances make it safe and practical to aim elsewhere than the assailant’s center mass. The approach is believed to be unique in the U.S., but is common in some other countries, as reported here. Members of the department were skeptical but found the training convincing. Lou Dekmar, the agency’s chief and a past-president of IACP, says “We’re supposed to be the professionals. We have to be reacting with more than one alternative, which is shoot center mass — particularly if we can do so safely.”

California the best state to be a police officer

May 15, 2021

The ratings company WalletHub has published its analysis of the best and worst states to be a police officer, based on 30 weighted metrics related to pay and benefits, training requirements, hazards, and job protections. The ratings and an explanation of the methodology are here. The three best states are California, Connecticut, and Maryland, while the three worst are Hawaii, Nevada, and Kentucky.

Submission deadline for 2021 Herman Goldstein award

May 13, 2021

June 1st is the submission deadline for the 2021 Herman Goldstein Award for outstanding problem-oriented policing. Submission instructions are here. The award will be given at the 30th POP Conference, which will be held October 4-6, 2021 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Information about the POP Conference can be found here, along with proceedings of recent conferences. The full database of award submissions since 1993 is here.

Reflecting on federal civil rights investigations

May 3, 2021

With USDOJ again initiating federal civil rights investigations of police departments, the Attorney General has ordered a review of the monitoring process that is used to make sure PDs implement the changes they agree to in consent decrees. In the past, federal monitoring has lasted as long as 10-15 years for some cities. Also, monitoring has tended to be very expensive. This post from the PERF Trending series reviews the history of federal investigations and consent decrees, identifies benefits that have been achieved, and offers several suggestions for streamlining the process.

Medicaid funding for crisis response

April 27, 2021

The recent COVID relief bill has an estimated $1 billion in Medicaid funding over the next 10 years for mobile crisis teams, as reported here. Co-responder and non-police response models are becoming increasingly popular, although none have been rigorously evaluated. One official thinks “It’s really exciting to see the federal government support this model. I am hopeful that three years from now we will have multiple models and ideally some data that shows this has actually saved people’s lives.”

Project Green Light in Detroit

April 26, 2021

Detroit implemented Project Green Light in 2016 in hopes of reducing robberies and carjacking. Businesses install a highly visible green light and one or more surveillance cameras that feed into the police department’s Real Time Crime Center. Over 600 sites have joined. As reported here, violent crimes have decreased, but a recent evaluation couldn’t definitively attribute results to Green Light since other major initiatives like Ceasefire and Project Safe Neighborhoods have operated during the same time period. Meanwhile, some activists and political leaders are expressing concern over excessive surveillance and a desire to invest more in social services.

Assessing reform proposals

April 19, 2021

The Task Force on Policing of the Council on Criminal Justice has published assessments of 11 police reform proposals, available here. Nine of the reforms are recommended based on available evidence of their effectiveness, including duty to intervene, de-escalation and procedural justice training, a national decertification database, and “expansion of federal pattern-or-practice investigations and collaborative reform efforts.” Evidence was found lacking for two frequently proposed reforms — implicit bias training and civilian oversight boards.

Focusing traffic stops on traffic safety

April 18, 2021

From 2013 to 2016, Fayetteville, NC decreased vehicle stops for non-moving violations by 75% and eliminated pre-text stops, while increasing moving-violation enforcement more than three-fold. There were two main objectives, reducing searches of Black drivers and reducing traffic fatalities. Both objectives were achieved, as reported here. In addition, “Uses of force went down, injuries to citizens and officers went down, and complaints against officers went down.” Experts note that traffic enforcement focused on equipment and registration violations inevitably has a disparate impact on lower income drivers, and often amounts to fishing expeditions that lead to even more disparity in searches of drivers and vehicles. Taking a targeted approach focused much more directly on unsafe driving seems more likely to enhance traffic safety and to support rather than impair police legitimacy.

Portland exit interviews

April 12, 2021

Portland PD has had nearly 10% turnover in the last 9 months. Exit interviews reflect frustration and burnout, as reported here. One officer wrote “The community shows zero support. The city council are raging idiots … the mayor and council ignore actual facts on crime and policing in favor of radical leftist and anarchists fantasy.” An obvious burnout factor is the 100+ straight days of protest experienced in the city. Meanwhile defunding is still under consideration and the police department isn’t authorized to fill vacant positions. An assistant chief sums up the situation: “The problem with Portland right now is that we are too progressive compared to some of our neighbors, and we are not progressive enough for some people in Portland.”

Position: Director of data & crime analysis

April 1, 2021

The Fairfax County Police Department (Virginia) has posted the position of Director of Data & Crime Analysis. The position announcement is here. The closing date for applications is April 23.