Policing social distance

March 27, 2020

This article reports on police involvement in enforcing “social distancing.” Agencies are using public education, warnings, business checks, and visible presence to encourage voluntary compliance, but are finding that stricter action is sometimes necessary. This has included breaking up gatherings, removing basketball hoops on public courts, and issuing citations. Cities are also using building inspectors, code enforcement staff, fire personnel and others to augment police in enforcing shutdown and stay-at-home orders along with social distancing.

Covid-19 webinar

March 21, 2020

The National Police Foundation, Major Cities Chiefs Association, and Police Executive Research Forum¬† provided a COVID-19 briefing for law enforcement in a webinar on March 19. Featured panelists included specialists from the CDC, NIOSH, and PHS as well as police executives. A recording of the 1-hour webinar is here. Presenters’ slides are here.

Fast-tracking recruit graduation in Ireland

March 21, 2020

Ireland has fast-tracked graduation of 319 new police in response to the Covid-19 emergency, as reported here. Some had completed as little as 5-6 weeks of the 32-week Gardai academy. An additional 125 academy instructors have been reassigned to front-line duties, and shift length has been expanded to 12 hours. The staffing increase is hoped to off-set anticipated sick leave from infected members, and to help with enforcement of emergency powers.

Arrested development

March 19, 2020

David Couper, former police chief and outspoken advocate for democratic policing and enlightened police leadership, has put the 2nd edition of his book Arrested Development online for free download. The announcement is on his blog here, and the book itself is here. The book covers David’s journey as a police officer and police chief and spares no punches in criticizing some of the trends in policing over the last 20 years.

Policing coronavirus

March 18, 2020

In response to the coronavirus, police are taking extra precautions, revising their operational strategies, being given additional authority, and even asking criminals to take a holiday, as reported here, here, and here. Specific measures adopted in some places include:

  • Encouraging victims of minor crimes to make reports on-line or over the telephone.
  • When police response is needed, having victims/witnesses meet police outside homes/offices.
  • Encouraging police to avoid enforcement of minor traffic and criminal violations.
  • When people telephone the police for assistance, asking screening questions to determine the level of virus risk for responding police.
  • Having police wait for medics to arrive at scenes of accidents, injuries, etc. when immediate life-saving isn’t required (medics have better masks, gowns, etc. than police).
  • Restricting use of road-side breath-testing equipment in cases of suspected drunk driving.
  • Using drones and other surveillance systems to assess situations before police arrive.
  • Allowing administrative staff to work from home.
  • Using 1-officer rather than 2-officer patrols to enhance social distancing.
  • Shifting more police to patrol duties (from investigations and other operational or administrative assignments).

Policing homelessness

March 14, 2020

This guide from Arnold Ventures summarizes evidence about homelessness and provides recommendations for police. Suggestions include fostering collaboration, using data, providing training, and using a problem-oriented approach. The document offers examples from Philadelphia and Wichita, explains the negative consequences of punitive measures, and lists talking points for police to use with the public.

Policing protests

March 13, 2020

A new guide for police based on lessons learned from policing protests in several countries is available here. It is described as “a clear and authoritative summary of research on policing practices that either facilitate peaceful protests and other public order events or violate basic rights, engender resentment and in some cases injury among peaceful protesters.” Facilitation, communication, and use of differentiated approaches are among the aspects of effective police response discussed in the guide.

Gun deaths in the U.S.

March 11, 2020

This report provides a variety of information about gun deaths (murder, suicide, and accident) in the U.S. in 2018 and over the preceding decade, based on CDC data. Nationally over the 10-year period, gun death rates increased 18%, with suicide the most common category each year. Comparing states for total gun deaths in 2018, Mississippi, Alabama, Wyoming, and Missouri had the highest rates, more than 5 times higher than in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and New York. Looking just at gun homicides, Mississippi had the highest rate in 2018, more than 10 times above the lowest, Utah.

Lost revenue for police training

March 4, 2020

Illinois is among the states that uses traffic fines and court costs to partially fund police training. As reported here, legislative changes aimed at making fines and fees more fair for lower income drivers have caused a significant drop in revenue. The state’s training and standards board is $5 million short since last summer, leading it to raise what it charges agencies for entry-level and in-service training. Medium size agencies are facing increased costs in the $50,000-$100,000 range in the middle of the their budget cycles.

Getting guns away from spouse abusers

February 28, 2020

This article describes the development of a process and system in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana for enforcing rules against spouse abusers who own guns. The sheriff’s office began the effort a decade ago, well ahead of the curve, and methodically identified each step that had to be followed to satisfy state and federal law and to obtain assistance from agencies such as ATF. Over 400 guns have been collected and the sheriff’s office was influential in speading its practices throughout the state and getting 27 domestic violence laws passed unanimously by the Louisiana legislature in 2018.