Analysis of officer-involved shootings in Phoenix

April 21, 2019

This report by the National Police Foundation provides analysis of officer-involved shootings in Phoenix, which doubled in 2018 over the average for the past 9 years. Information was gathered from the community and from police records, and comparisons were made over time and with other big cities and Arizona cities. One factor in Phoenix was that assaults on officers increased, and more OIS incidents involved subjects armed with weapons, including guns. Another was that both police and community members pointed to lack of trust, leading to several recommendations aimed at transparency, accountability, and relationship building.

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Video on evidence-based policing

April 19, 2019

A new 15-minute video explaining evidence-based policing is available here. It provides examples, features several leading academic and police experts on the topic, and is presented in a clear, uncomplicated way.

Texas to offer student loan repayment assistance to police

April 18, 2019

The Texas legislature has passed preliminary bills that would assist police in repaying student loans, as reported here. The House and Senate versions differ on payment amounts and eligibility so will need to be reconciled, but both passed overwhelmingly and have leadership support. Sponsors and police employee associations hope the measures will help law enforcement agencies overcome current challenges in recruitment and retention. According to a labor representative, “Much like the military’s GI Bill has done for decades, our LEO (law enforcement officer) Bill will serve a similar purpose.”

Sheriff says uphold the law

April 17, 2019

In this op-ed, an Oregon sheriff reminds his peers that their responsibility is to uphold laws, not make them or cherry-pick which ones to enforce or ignore. Referring to those refusing to enforce gun safety laws, he argues “Anyone who believes that equal protection under the law is the cornerstone of our democracy should be concerned to see sheriffs in a handful of states vowing they will not comply with or enforce state laws they do not personally support.” He reminds his colleagues that there are established ways to challenge laws they don’t agree with, through the legal system and the political process.

Eye in the sky

April 15, 2019

The Chula Vista, California police department is believed to be the first to deploy drones for immediate response to emergency calls, as reported here. Average response time is less than 2 minutes for the drones, which are dispatched from the roof of police headquarters and stream video to incident managers and responding officers. The agency credits 57 arrests and 50 calls avoided to the drones over the last 6 months.

Accountability as the enemy of prevention

April 15, 2019

This paper argues that the current single-minded focus on legal and administrative accountability following police shootings ignores the equally important objective of preventing future shootings. It applies several concepts from the safety field — root cause analysis, organizational accidents, and sentinel event review — to illustrate how a stronger emphasis on prevention could be achieved. The author doesn’t suggest that “individual police officers should escape responsibility for their actions. But our current relentless focus on accountability – while an understandable human reaction – has become the enemy of prevention in the very communities that need it most.”

LAPD pulls back on data-driven policing

April 13, 2019

LAPD has been at the forefront of predictive policing focused on hot spots and repeat offenders, using algorithms and programs such as PredPol and LASER. Community activists have criticized the approach as biased, and a city inspector general review found inconsistent criteria, lack of oversight, and weak evidence of effectiveness. The department has now agreed to suspend the LASER program while it reassesses the data, as reported here, with the chief commenting “Crime reduction strategies are never static. We will continue to learn and evolve in our work.”

New approach to deescalation

April 12, 2019

The newest member of the Franklin, Massachusetts PD recently deescalated a tense situation involving a distraught student at a local school, as reported here. An officer and a teacher couldn’t calm the student, but upon the arrival of Ben, the department’s 5-month old therapy puppy, the youngster “looked at the officer and snapped out of it. He said ‘Can I pet him?’ and the officer said ‘Yes, if you’re good.’” Ben, whose grandfather won a title at the Westminster Dog Show, is one of only a few police therapy dogs in the state, but “the idea of a dog solely focused on community outreach is picking up steam.”

Sentinel Events — looking for sites

April 11, 2019

The Sentinel Events Initiative is a way of reviewing critical events in order to improve future outcomes without looking for someone to blame. The federally-funded initiative is currently recruiting jurisdictions to participate in a national collaboration and evaluation. A webinar next Wednesday, April 17 @ 2:00 pm EST will provide information and answer questions. To register for the webinar, go here. Further details about the Sentinel Events Initiative are available here and here.

Detrimental effects of police stops

April 10, 2019

Police street stops of adolescent boys of color cause psychological distress and lead to increased delinquent behavior, according to a new study published by the National Academies of Science. The study followed a sample of black and Latino 9th and 10th graders from 6 high schools in one city over an 18-month period. Of the sample, 40% reported experiencing at least one street stop during the study period. Those stopped were not more likely to have self-reported prior delinquency, but subsequently did report more distress and more delinquency. The findings “suggest that police stops are associated with harmful outcomes for young boys in … [high crime areas], and that they may be even more harmful when they occur earlier in boys’ lives.”