Archive for the ‘Officer safety’ Category

Officer fatalities down at mid-year

August 1, 2019

Line-of-duty deaths for January through June 2019 were down 35% compared to the first half of 2018 and were the 3rd lowest in 40 years, as reported here by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. There were 60 officer fatalities as of June 30, including 27 firearms-related and 21 traffic-related. More traffic-related deaths occurred outside the vehicle than within. The average age of deceased officers was 42, average length of service was 14 years, and 55 of 60 were male.


Drop in police shootings in Chicago

July 10, 2019

Shootings by police in Chicago dropped 70% from 2009 to 2018, from 124 per year to 37, including both “hit” and “no-hit” shootings, according to this public radio report. During the same period, incidents of police being shot at, and cases of aggravated battery committed against officers, remained about the same. Both external pressure and improved training are cited as causes for the steady decline in police shootings over the decade.

When Tasers fail

May 13, 2019

This article and accompanying public radio podcast review the evolution of the Taser over the last 20 years. Data from several large departments indicate device success rates in the 55%-80% range, below the manufacturer’s claims. Effectiveness also seemed to decline after 2009 when the electrical charge was reduced. The latest model, the Taser 7, has a revised launch angle for better results at close range, since about 75% of deployments occur within 7 feet of the subject.

OIS protocol standardized in Charleston

May 3, 2019

South Carolina is one of many states that leaves decisions related to investigating and prosecuting officer-involved shootings to local authorities. Charleston-area agencies have established a standard policy and practice in coordination with their prosecutor, as reported here. The new protocol sets two 60-day deadlines, one to complete an independent investigation and one for prosecutorial review, and emphasizes the need for communication and transparency. Officials expect other regions of the state will look at the protocol for guidance.

Details from Florence

April 22, 2019

This article provides a detailed account of the tragic shootout in Florence, South Carolina last October in which an officer and a deputy were killed and 5 others were wounded. They were ambushed by a 74-year-old Vietnam veteran who says he went into “Saigon-mode.” Deputies went to the house to interview his son on a sexual assault allegation and to serve a search warrant. A MRAP was needed to rescue downed officers after which the shooter surrendered.

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.

NYPD secret weapon

April 5, 2019

NYPD handled 180,000 “emotionally disturbed person” calls last year, often involving some kind of threat of violence. For those cases where the individual is inside an apartment, patrol officers are now being issued a length of rope and a door wedge, enabling them to secure the door so the person can’t suddenly burst out, forcing a snap decision about use of force. The equipment was recently used, successfully, to avert a confrontation with a man armed with what turned out to be an imitation pistol, as reported here.

Listening in Stockton

April 2, 2019

Stockton, California was in a rough situation when the current chief was promoted to that position in 2012. The city had filed for bankruptcy, there were police layoffs, morale was low, and violent crime was up. In this interview, the chief explains how he learned to listen more carefully to members of his community, including victims and the formerly incarcerated, as well as his own officers. He and the city manager went on a “listening tour” and now he and his staff do a listening session in the community about once a month. Over the last 5 years, public trust has improved, case clearances are up, and shootings are down.

Mixed results from body cams

March 26, 2019

Body-worn cameras have now been widely adopted by police agencies, likely passing the 50% mark in 2017. The results so far have been mixed, as summarized here based on the latest review of multiple studies. Body cams seem to reduce complaints against police, whether due to better police behavior or reduced frivolous complaints (or both). Also, police video footage is increasingly used by prosecutors, for example in domestic violence cases. But the studies have not found a consistent impact on police use of force, suspect resistance, or citizen satisfaction with police interactions.

The tragedy of Baltimore

March 13, 2019

Baltimore has just confirmed the appointment of a new police commissioner, Michael Harrison, recently retired from New Orleans. This article reviews the last few years of crime and policing in the city, describing in detail the tension between residents’ critical need for more safety through engaged policing, and the social and economic factors fueling high levels of street crime. People attending recent community meetings “were not describing a trade-off between justice and order. They saw them as two parts of a whole and were daring to ask for both.”