Archive for the ‘Use of Force’ Category

Details on NZ apprehension

March 18, 2019

This article provides information on the apprehension of the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque attacker. Two officers from an outlying area, who happened to be in the city for a training session, went operational, spotted the fleeing vehicle, made the decision to ram it, and took the shooter into custody. The officers have not been identified by name, but have been praised by the police commissioner and others. Their sergeant commented, “I was surprised how calm and collected they were.”

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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.”

Shootings by NYPD continue downward trend

March 7, 2019

Police-involved shootings by NYPD officers have decreased 96% since 1972, dropping from 994 in that year to 35 in 2018, as reported here. More restrictive deadly force policies adopted in the 1970s had an early impact, while the sharp decline in violent crime since the 1990s has contributed. More recently, officials say enhanced training deserves credit — officers are “put through varying scenarios to prepare them for eventualities when responding to a crisis,” the agency “reviews every shooting incident and passes on findings to instructors at the academy,” and “We address any tactical training issues almost immediately.”

Risk management vs. civil rights

February 14, 2019

This article discusses the impact of Lexipol, a California-based company that provides policies to 3,400 public safety agencies around the U.S. The company says that agencies using its policies experience a reduction in legal claims and payments to plaintiffs. Critics say the approach is focused more on minimizing lawsuits than on improving police services to the public — “They’re designed for maximum protection against civil liability. It’s not maximum protection of civil rights.”

FBI shooting data

February 12, 2019

FBI agents have been involved in 228 shooting incidents since 2011, including 113 accidental discharges, 34 animals, and 81 “intentional shootings involving people or objects” according to this NBC news segment and article. Agents were found at fault in 5 of the shootings, none of which resulted in fatalities. The bureau has not traditionally released information about its agent-involved shootings, and has not employed independent or external investigation. Looking ahead, the FBI will be administering the new national database of police shootings, announced last year — reportedly, “the bureau itself would also submit information to the database.”

Broken safety net in Portland

February 1, 2019

This 4-minute public radio report and accompanying article discuss the lack of mental health services in Portland and the rest of Oregon. As in many other jurisdictions, dealing with people in crisis has fallen to police, emergency rooms, and jails, none of which are really equipped to provide the intervention and treatment that people need. The commander of the PD’s behavioral health unit says “We’re kind of there collecting the people at the bottom in the worst moments at the depths of their crisis where it would be ideal to coordinate and do whatever we can upstream to prevent them cascading off the waterfall.”

49 recommendations for Sacramento

January 31, 2019

Following a fatal officer-involved shooting last year, Sacramento PD asked the state attorney general for an outside review of policies and practices. That review has been completed with 49 recommendations, as reported here, covering use of force policies, reporting, training, and investigation, along with complaint procedures, community engagement, and transparency. The full report is available here. In support of the recommendations, the police chief said “The Sacramento Police Department is not interested in being ‘good enough’,” while the mayor promised the city would become a leader in law enforcement, saying “We’re not going to try to huddle in the middle of the pack.”

Prospects for police reform

January 14, 2019

Noted police historian and accountability expert Sam Walker discusses the prospects for ongoing police reform in this law review article. Despite reduced pressure from the federal government since 2017, he sees encouraging efforts within policing, some state and local governments accepting greater responsibility, and continuing interest from activists and the general public. Still, the prospects for significant change “face a number of uncertainties, challenges, and obstacles” and “we have no real understanding of the conditions necessary for major reforms to be sustained over the long haul.”

Police shootings high in Phoenix

January 7, 2019

Phoenix PD had 38 officer-involved shootings in 2018 as of late October, with 19 fatalities. Per population, that rate was 10 times higher than Philadelphia’s, 5 times higher than Chicago’s, and more than 3 times higher than LA’s, as reported here. Activists blame the police while the officers’ union blames violent crime and suspect non-compliance. Both sides are so sure they know the reasons behind the high numbers that they criticized the city for funding an independent study, due to be completed this month.

K-9 audit in St. Paul

January 5, 2019

Following several accidental bites, an audit has concluded that “Systemic issues with training, supervision and record-keeping plagued the St. Paul police K-9 unit … and partly contributed to attacks on innocent bystanders,” as reported here. The review found that handlers often self-trained, scored their own training performance, and were inconsistent in issuing verbal warnings to suspects. Recommendations include closer supervision, better performance data, and “developing more arrest options officers can use instead of deploying a K-9 for human apprehension; using time, distance, cover and options to slow human-dog encounters; and emphasizing the canine’s primary purpose as a locating tool.”