Autopsies hindered by organ donation

October 17, 2019

Organ donation has become more common over the years, and several states have enacted laws aimed at speeding up the “harvesting” process so that body parts can be preserved to help others in need. As reported here, these laws sometimes enable companies to secure parts, including skin and bones in addition to organs, before autopsies have been conducted. Investigations have been compromised — “In multiple cases, coroners have had to guess at the cause of death.”


Gunshot detection technology

October 17, 2019

This report provides recommendations for implementing gunshot detection technology (GDT) most effectively, based on a 3-city evaluation. Key suggestions include “developing clear policies and procedures prior to GDT implementation, placing GDT sensors in areas where violent crime is most concentrated, making training an ongoing priority, and communicating with community members early and often.”

Non-police crisis response

October 16, 2019

Denver has joined other cities considering adopting a mental health crisis response option that relies on mental health professionals rather than police, as reported here. The model cities are looking at is CAHOOTS, Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets, pioneered in Oregon. A police official in Eugene explains “Our police officers try the best they can, but they are not mental health professionals.” Mental health responders wear casual clothes and “That difference in uniforms can assist folks with letting their guard down and being open to accepting the help that is being offered.”

Drones in Colorado & California

October 15, 2019

Police utilization of drones seems to be picking up. In California, Chula Vista reports 1,000 missions in the first year of its Drone as a First Responder program, resulting in 130 arrests and numerous assists to arriving officers, as reported here. Police in Longmont and Boulder, Colorado, are using drones to locate missing persons, monitor emergency situations, and obtain aerial documentation of crime and crash scenes, as reported here.

Grand Rapids slow to report public sentiment data

October 4, 2019

Grand Rapids, Michigan implemented a survey system 18 months ago to produce monthly data on public trust, perceptions of safety, and other aspects of public opinion. The chief at the time argued that such information was “as valuable as crime rates or any other numbers.” The agency’s new leadership stopped releasing the data, indicating that they find the information useful but “they’re still working with the company to establish a public dashboard feature to share the data with the community,” as reported here. City council members are expressing concern over the expense of the initiative.

BWC mainly exonerates officers in LAPD

October 3, 2019

Out of 320 complaints against LAPD officers in 2018 in which body camera recordings helped determine who was at fault, the evidence cleared the officers in over 80%, as reported here. The agency’s compliance rate for BWC activation in critical incidents, a problem during initial implementation, is now up to 95%. In the chief’s view, “It helps both sides of the camera. The existence of that camera helps answer did the alleged act occur or did it not.”

Shootings & homicides down in Milwaukee

September 28, 2019

Homicides and shootings have been dropping since 2015 in Milwaukee. As reported here, officials credit better response to shootings as a way of preventing retaliatory violence, and much greater collaboration with public health and violence prevention initiatives. The mantra is “Treat every shooting as if it were a homicide — because it almost was.” The approach is modeled after Oakland, California where shootings and homicides were cut in half over 5 years, as reported here.

Rules for searching family tree DNA databases

September 27, 2019

This article reports new federal rules designed to limit police access to genetic (DNA) genealogy databases. The rules, taking effect November 1, will only apply to federal law enforcement agencies “and state or local agencies with federal funding to use genetic genealogy searches.” But some experts think they will be more widely adopted as a national model, considering privacy concerns and the current lack of regulation over fast-developing practices.

Minneapolis weighing alternative responses

September 20, 2019

Minneapolis is looking into the possibility of handling some 911 calls with non-police responses, as reported here. Part of the rationale is the present situation in which calls for service have increased but police staffing hasn’t, leading to a “high number of emergency calls that get no immediate response.” The police department is asking for additional officers, but city officials want to consider whether social workers or other alternative responders might be more effective.

Jurisdictional complexity in tribal areas

September 19, 2019

This article describes some of the jurisdictional challenges faced in tribal policing. The legal authority of tribal and non-tribal police can depend on where an incident occurred, whether the victim is a tribal member, and whether the offender is a tribal member. One tribal attorney says “it’s a complete mess.” Potential solutions include collaborative agreements and cross-deputization, but issues related to sovereignty, liability, and trust often get in the way of making significant improvements.