Archive for the ‘Police & Society’ Category

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.

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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.

Violent crime victimization up in 2018

September 12, 2019

Violent crime victimization in the U.S. increased for the 3rd straight year in 2018, after decreasing 18 out of 20 years from 1995 to 2015, as reported here. Despite recent increases, the rate is still less than 1/3 what it was in 1995. Proportionally, the steepest increase from 2017 to 2018 was in rape/sexual assault. Property crime victimization has decreased slightly since 2015.

Whether to respond to suicide calls

September 4, 2019

This article reports that some California agencies have stopped responding to suicide calls because they could lead to “suicide by cop.” One sheriff notes “If you call because you are bottoming out and you need help, we send men with guns … Maybe this needs to shift the conversation”¬†and another says “In too many instances, we show up and further aggravate a crisis situation.” However, others argue that police should respond, but use deescalation, time, and space rather than forcing the situation when a person is simply threatening self-harm.

Threatening to commit mass shootings

September 3, 2019

This article reports over 40 people arrested around the country over the last month for threatening to commit mass shootings or bombings, most after tips from the public. Common themes included right-wing ideology and threats against schools, Walmarts, and Planned Parenthood. The nature of the cases ranged from “vague social media threats from juveniles that set parents on edge to well-developed plots from people who had access to weapons and appeared to authorities to have been planning a mass murder.”

Psychological phenomena affecting investigations

September 1, 2019

The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Innocence Project offer 7 videos here, each one 4-5 minutes long, explaining psychological factors that can negatively affect criminal investigations and the ensuing legal process. Topics include confirmation bias, tunnel vision, memory malleability, and mistaken eyewitness identification.

Shooting reviews in New Mexico

August 31, 2019

Per capita, New Mexico has had more police-involved fatal shootings than any other state in 3 of the last 4 years, according to this article. Family members and critics express frustration over the length of investigations, lack of transparency, and inconsistency across the state’s 33 counties and district attorneys. Proposals have been made to shift the responsibility to the state’s attorney general or some other state agency but legislation has not been enacted so far.

Ring doorbell cameras

August 30, 2019

The Ring doorbell-camera company has secured partnerships with 405 police agencies around the country, as reported here. Besides selling the devices to homeowners, the company provides a social media app that helps neighbors share information and videos with each other. The app also enables police to request video from Ring customers, and officers are encouraged to participate on the social media platform in order to raise public awareness and increase community vigilance. Critics worry about police seeming to endorse a commercial product, the expansion of surveillance, and the impact of bias on what residents perceive and report as suspicious behavior.

Who cares about safety?

August 30, 2019

This article reports that U.S. traffic deaths from red-light running increased each year from 2012 to 2017, the last year for which data are available, with 2017 a 10-year high. Meanwhile, the number of jurisdictions using red-light cameras has dropped each year since 2012, despite studies indicating 20-30% fewer intersection crashes where the cameras are used. This year, legislation was passed and signed in Texas banning the use of red-light cameras in the state, as reported here. The governor cited constitutional issues and complaints that local jurisdictions adopted the cameras mainly to generate revenue.

Reasonable and necessary

August 26, 2019

Effective January 1st, legislation in California will require that police use of deadly force be “necessary” as well as “reasonable,” as reported here. Police initially criticized the change but withdrew their opposition after securing some revised language in the law. Some observers say the impact of the new standard won’t be known until courts parse the meaning of “necessary,” while others think it will encourage better tactics and more emphasis on deescalation. Meanwhile, the police department in Camden, New Jersey has adopted a use of force policy that also incorporates “necessary,” stipulates that any use of force should be a “last resort,” and has the “sanctity of human life” at its core, as reported here.