Archive for the ‘Police Administration’ Category

Citizens in charge

February 22, 2020

In most American cities and towns, the police chief is hired and fired by a mayor or city manager, sometimes requiring city council approval, though in a few states chiefs have civil service protection that keeps them from being fired except for cause. An exception is Oakland, California, where voters overwhelmingly approved, in 2016, creation of an elected 7-member police commission that can fire the chief for cause, and can fire the chief even without cause, if the mayor agrees. The commission has done just that, terminating Chief Anne Kirkpatrick after 3 years in the position, as reported here. The mayor “spoke highly of Kirkpatrick even as she joined the police commission in firing her,” suggesting that opposing the commission would have been too costly, politically.

After action reviews

February 19, 2020

The COPS Office has a new publication, How to Conduct an After Action Review, produced in cooperation with the National Police Foundation, available here. An AAR “is conducted following a critical incident to allow teams to reflect on what happened, what did or did not work in the response and why, and how to improve weaknesses while sustaining and building on strengths.” The publication includes an analysis of 20 recent AARs and a step-by-step guide for agencies to follow.

Meth and OIS in Colorado

February 7, 2020

These two Public Radio segments (Part 1 and Part 2) discuss the connection between methamphetamine abuse and police use of force in Colorado. For the period 2014-2019 the state had the nation’s 5th highest rate of fatal shootings by police, trailing only Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. During that period, 44% of the deceased suspects had meth in their system, according to autopsies, far higher than for any other substance. Experts say that heavy meth use leads to paranoia and delusions and “when people are using this drug, they’re significantly more likely to act out in a violent or hostile manner.” They also tend to be unfazed by less-lethal responses such as pepper spray and Tasers.

Art, perception, and policing

February 3, 2020

New York and Chicago PDs have incorporated fine art in training aimed at enhancing perception skills and overcoming bias, as reported here. One CPD commander notes “By training in the art field, your brain tends to adapt and see things in a way [other] people might not see,” including learning not to make quick assumptions about what you observe. The historian who teaches “The Art of Perception” says “In this disengaged world that we’re living in, art from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries still has the power to engage people to look more carefully.”

Targeted, calibrated traffic enforcement

February 1, 2020

This article describes the Charleston, South Carolina PD’s revamped approach to traffic enforcement following the results of a 2018 racial bias audit. The agency is more carefully targeting traffic-related hot spots with both enforcement and public education, based on data with close monitoring by supervisors, while de-emphasizing just stopping cars and writing tickets as a blanket strategy. The approach now is more specific and intentional — “traffic stops are to correct traffic behaviors. It really comes down to that — correcting distracted drivers, speeding, the overall goal of preserving life,” according to one commander.

Rape law in America

January 30, 2020

This column uses the current prosecution of Harvey Weinstein to review the development and status of rape law. Prosecutors point out that sex crime laws make cases extremely difficult to prove. Rape shield laws are intended to protect victims from having to testify about their sexual history, but still in court if a woman’s behavior “doesn’t look like the behavior of a nun, she will be attacked.” The author notes “If a man were robbed at an ATM, it wouldn’t matter what he was wearing or what time of night he was withdrawing money; the dispositive fact is that a robbery occurred … Only when the victim is a woman and the crime is sexual can such personal details derail a prosecution.”

Fixing VPSO in Alaska

January 29, 2020

Alaska created the Village Public Safety Officer program 40 years ago as a way to provide police, fire, and EMS services in remote rural villages. In recent years the program has fallen on hard times with fewer than half the number of officers from just 8 years ago, leaving many villages unserved. This article reports the state legislature is now considering a number of recommendations to reinvigorate the program.

Herman Goldstein 1931-2020

January 25, 2020

Herman Goldstein, widely admired architect of problem-oriented policing, passed away Friday in Madison, Wisconsin. Online messages from both police leaders and police scholars emphasized how much Herman had influenced their thinking about police, and also what a warm, generous, and humble man he was. A reflection on the enduring significance of POP is here. A eulogy by his friend and mentee David Couper is here. Some of his early biography can be found here, starting on page 18, and an article about him winning the Stockholm Prize in Criminology is here. His own comments about that prestigious award are here, and his Stockholm lecture is published here. A great and good man has left us and he will be sorely missed.

Pros and cons of firearms simulators

January 21, 2020

A news reporter reviews his experience using a local agency’s firearms simulator in this article. He learned that use-of-force situations can be unpredictable and fast-changing, but he also felt that the simulation operator frequently chose worst-case branching options. The result can be “negative training” — officers try deescalation but end up getting shot, learning that “It doesn’t matter what I do.” Instead, according to one expert, “The scenario should be driven by the choices of the officer and not the operator,” so that good judgment is reinforced.

Breath test issues in Michigan

January 20, 2020

Police in Michigan have suspended use of 203 Datamaster breath testing machines due to falsified certification records, as reported here. The Intoximeter, Inc. company has an annual $1.3 million contract to calibrate the machines. Discrepancies were discovered in August and again this month. According to state police, who have opened a criminal investigation, “While the discrepancies do not directly impact or deal with the results of evidential breath tests, it is concerning that it appears as though some certification records have been falsified.” Agencies will use blood draws in suspected DUI cases until the matter is cleared up.