Archive for the ‘Use of Force’ Category

To chase or not to chase

June 30, 2018

This article provides a balanced discussion of police pursuit policies and practices. According to a 2015 analysis, chases account for over 300 deaths per year in the U.S., nearly half being bystanders or passengers. Many agencies have adopted stricter guidelines, limiting pursuits except in serious violent crime cases and putting decisions in the hands of supervisors. But other agencies continue to pursue and give officers discretion, not wanting offenders to believe that it’s easy to escape.


Use of force down 50% in Minneapolis

May 27, 2018

This article reports 10 years of use of force data in Minneapolis, showing a 50% decline over the decade. When force was used, it was 70% physical contact, 15% pepper spray, and 10% Taser, with injuries occurring in 30% of the use of force incidents. More than half of the encounters were officer-initiated rather than in response to a call. Local activists remain skeptical; one official notes “the perception of police over-aggressiveness has thrived regardless of evidence that counters it, because of the lingering trauma of past encounters with law enforcement.”

Walking the tightrope in Milwaukee

May 23, 2018

From David Couper’s blog, a nice 3-minute video of Milwaukee’s newly-appointed police chief setting a warm and respectful tone toward the community and pledging to be open and honest with the public and with members of the police department. Those promises are quickly being tested, as video was released today of officers using physical force and a Taser on a NBA player over a parking complaint last January. Today’s release of the video was accompanied by an apology and reported discipline for the officers involved.

Focusing on system failures

May 18, 2018

This law review article promotes a systems approach to errors in policing, in order to put the highest priority on preventing future errors. The author acknowledges that individual officers must still be held accountable for their behavior, just as doctors and pilots can be disciplined or sued for making egregious mistakes. But “it is impossible to cure limitations of human perception, cognition, and decisionmaking. Instead of focusing exclusively on training people to change their behavior — and threatening them with criminal, civil, or department sanctions if they fail to do so — the systems approach adjusts equipment, schedules, protocols, and policies in ways that can make it harder for people to err and can reduce the impact of error when it inevitably occurs.”


April 12, 2018

Investigations continue into the March 18 fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento. This public radio segment reports Police Chief Daniel Hahn’s most recent presentation to City Council as well as community reactions, while this follow-up segment interviews the chief about the current situation and changes that might be made in policies and training.

Flint PD — broken department in a broken city

March 15, 2018

Netflix is currently airing a gritty 8-part documentary “Flint Town” that captures violence and desperation in a failing city, produced by film makers who were embedded with the police department for 20 months. The PD is badly understaffed, overwhelmed, and frustrated. As one officer wrote, “How can citizens in Flint trust the police to protect them when they can’t even trust their government to provide them with clean water?” The film’s trailer is here. An 8-minute scene from the documentary is here. A column about the film and the city is available here.

Pulse and Parkland active shooter responses

March 9, 2018

This article compares the first few minutes of police response in the recent Parkland school mass shooting to the Pulse nightclub mass shooting that occurred in 2016, also in Florida. The circumstances differ and many details of both incidents are still not public, but in each case the officers first on the scene chose not to immediately enter the buildings. In the Pulse nightclub case the first officer, who did fire on the subject from outside before taking cover, was declared a hero, whereas in the Parkland case the first deputy was quickly labeled a coward.

Parkland school shooting

February 24, 2018

This article provides a summary of what’s known so far about how the FBI and local law enforcement handled the numerous tips and reports they received about the Parkland school shooter before the terrible events last week. This article provides some perspectives on the Broward County deputy’s apparent failure to rush in as the shooting was taking place.

Standoff in Dallas

February 5, 2018

This article offers a detailed account of the Dallas SWAT response in July 2016 after a lone gunman had killed 5 police officers and taken refuge inside El Centro College. The response included negotiations, significant exchange of gunfire, and then use of a robot to deliver an explosive charge that killed the shooter, who had vowed to continue killing police until he was killed.

Investigating officer-involved shootings in Florida

February 4, 2018

This article discusses the pros and cons of outside, independent investigation of officer-involved shootings. Most agencies in Central Florida turn to a state agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to conduct such investigations, but the Brevard County sheriff mainly relies on his own staff, arguing that they are highly capable and that the FDLE is stretched too thin as it is.