Archive for the ‘Use of Force’ Category

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.

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.

Pursuits in NJ

January 3, 2020

This article provides an in-depth look at police pursuits in New Jersey, based on 10 years of data, 66,000 arrest records, and 5,000 pages of chase reports. Over 14,000 pursuits resulted in almost 7,000 crashes, 2,568 injuries, and 63 deaths. The number of pursuits increased between 2014 and 2017 despite a state-wide policy that discourages chases and oversight by the state’s attorney general. Only one-third of the arrests associated with pursuits were for violent offenses; the most common charge was “assault on police officers, but most of those charges were dismissed later in court.”

Lawsuits up in South Carolina

December 24, 2019

The number of lawsuits filed against law enforcement agencies in South Carolina has increased over the last 5 years and the portion resulting in payouts has gone from 30% to 45%, according to this article. The state insurance pool recently notified local police and sheriff departments that rates will increase 50% in 2020. Agencies indicate they have little input in insurers’ decisions about whether to settle or contest suits filed against them. One observer says “increased interest in police accountability over the past few years has skewed the courts in plaintiffs’ favor.”

Mental health crisis or meth?

November 7, 2019

This article reports challenges faced by police when encountering someone behaving erratically — is it a mental health issue or a substance abuse issue? Officers working in areas currently experiencing a surge in meth abuse may find it difficult to tell which cause is behind a person’s behavior. A particular sticking point is that calm de-escalation techniques are recommended when handling a mental health crisis, but that approach may not work best with someone under the influence of drugs.

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.

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.

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.

Interim chief reflects on Ferguson experience

August 12, 2019

Here is a 6-minute radio interview with Andre Anderson, a police commander in Glendale, Arizona who served as interim chief in Ferguson for 6 months. He discusses what the situation was like, the efforts he made to try to better connect the community and police, and lessons he learned that he has brought back to his home agency as well as shared around the country.

Use of force during arrests down 21% in Denver

August 8, 2019

This article reports a 21% decrease in use force during arrests in Denver for the first 6 months of 2019, compared to 2018. The agency adopted a more restrictive policy and then followed up with training. The planned next step is to augment training with scenarios embedded in virtual reality technology “to allow us to walk our folks through them in a 360-degree wrap-around video simulator that will help identify key areas for de-escalation and really move us forward in this continual improvement process.”