Renewed call to action

April 26, 2023

Members of the Obama-era 21st Century Task Force on Policing (2015) have issued a “Renewed Call to Action” with 8 recommendations and 56 action steps, available here. The report notes “The nation remains in a policing crisis, and too many poor communities of color face the adverse conditions of poverty and economic exclusion that aggravate the relationship between communities and police.” The recommendations include a focus on community safety, rebuilding police culture, establishing national standards, addressing gaps in accountability, and addressing underlying drivers of crime.

First-responder drones

April 17, 2023

Chula Vista PD in California has been one of the first agencies to utilize drones to rapidly respond to selected incidents in order to provide responding officers with “eye in the sky” information. This quick response capability has been used over 14,000 times since 2018. Chief Roxana Kennedy explains how the program works and discusses challenges and benefits in this interview.

Voters defeat police oversight board in Burlington, Vermont

March 14, 2023

Voters in Burlington, Vermont recently defeated a proposed community police oversight board, 63% to 37%, as reported here. The board would have had the authority to discipline and remove officers, including the chief. The city’s mayor had previously vetoed the proposal when it was advanced by the city council, calling it a “risky experiment.” Supporters then gathered enough signatures to get the proposed charter revision on the ballot, only to see it fail by a wide margin.

NIJ LEADS Scholars applications due May 1

March 13, 2023

The National Institute of Justice has posted its 2023 call for applications for the LEADS Scholars Program, as announced here. The acronym stands for Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science. Established in 2014, the program selects 10 mid-career officers each year who demonstrate a commitment to using research and evidence to improve policing. Selected officers don’t leave their agency jobs, but they get 3 years of support from NIJ, including attending annual IACP and NIJ conferences, attending other professional events, mentoring, and networking. A smaller number of LEADS-Civilians and LEADS-Academics are also selected each year. The deadline to apply for the 2023 class is May 1st.

Reducing auto theft including carjacking

March 8, 2023

Police in Denver are implementing a vehicle tracking system that they hope will make stolen vehicle recoveries quicker and also prevent thefts, as reported here. Overall in Colorado, vehicle thefts have doubled in the last 5 years. City residents with sensors in their cars will be able to register those with police, speeding things up when they report their car as stolen. Also, police are providing stickers that owners can put on their cars publicizing that they are registered in the program. The initiative is modeled after one in Cook County, Illinois, where jailhouse interviews indicated that the sensors and stickers would significantly reduce the likelihood of a vehicle being targeted for theft.

Federal government seeking input about police data collection

March 7, 2023

The White House and federal government are seeking input from the public and from law enforcement representatives about ways to improve data collection about policing, including reported crime and use of force, as reported here. The initiative aims to help the federal government:

  1. Understand the current landscape related to data collection, use, and transparency practices with respect to law enforcement activities;
  2. Recognize law enforcement agencies that have undertaken successful efforts to modernize policing data and to learn what could be improved; and,
  3. Identify how to provide guidance and support to law enforcement agencies to implement best practices related to equitable data.

Additional details are available here. The deadline to submit feedback is March 30.

ATF releases crime gun report

February 27, 2023

ATF has recently issued its most comprehensive reports on firearms commerce and crime guns in 20 years, as reported here. Among other things, the reports document “a spike in the use of conversion devices that make a semiautomatic gun fire like a machine gun, along with the growing seizure of so-called ghost guns, privately made firearms that are hard to trace.” The firearms in commerce report, available here, shows that from 2000 to 2009 more rifles were manufactured in the U.S. than any other type of firearm, but since then pistols have surged well ahead. Smith & Wesson, Sturm/Ruger, and Sig Sauer accounted for 60% of U.S. manufactured pistols in the period 2016-2020. The crime guns report, available here, provides information on tracing, guns recovered, firearm thefts, and the use of NIBIN to enhance the value of ballistic evidence. In regard to the latter, over 150,000 investigative leads were produced through NIBIN in 2021, nearly triple the number in 2017.

Florida legislature considers protections for police chiefs

February 23, 2023

Bills currently filed in the Florida House and Senate would provide additional job security and due process rights for chiefs of police. Of course, most police chiefs in most states “serve at the pleasure” of their appointing authority and have very few employment protections. The Florida bills provide that a chief “May not be terminated by his or her employing agency without being provided written notice,  including just cause for the termination, and the opportunity to defend himself or herself against the termination at a public meeting or hearing.” The preamble to the legislation emphasizes the importance of transparency and the value of community participation in decisions to terminate a chief. Text of the House bill is here.

Regulating use of facial recognition

February 20, 2023

Facial recognition technology is being used in policing today but significant issues remain about accuracy and privacy. This report from RAND reviews “policy options that fall between the extremes of permissive use and banning law enforcement use of the technology altogether.” It notes that both federal and state legislation are currently lagging behind technology developments and utilization by police agencies. Recommendations include transparency, careful evaluations to determine the effectiveness of the technology, and more fully developed standards to limit variation in how facial recognition is implemented across different agencies.

Minnesota POST tightens rules

February 14, 2023

Minnesota’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Board has adopted several rule changes, as reported here. One new rule establishes “a ban on officers associating with or promoting the views of extremist and hate groups.” Another change replaces a citizenship requirement with the criterion that the person must be legal to work in the U.S. The POST Board’s authority to take action in regard to an officer’s certification was also expanded to include misconduct, rather than being limited to an officer’s criminal conviction. Board members indicated these changes are just the first step in strengthening the POST’s role in Minnesota.