Archive for the ‘Use of Force’ Category

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.

Police shootings in suburban Chicago

January 20, 2018

This site provides information about 113 police shootings in the suburban Chicago area since 2005, including data, articles, and radio stories. According to an analysis of available records, no discipline resulted from any of the incidents, and few were reviewed for policy or training violations. This column faults the local news media for focusing only on problems in the City of Chicago, and calls the situation a “massive failure of government.”

987 fatal shootings by police in 2017

January 6, 2018

This article reports the unofficial total of fatal shootings by police in 2017, as compiled by the Washington Post based on news accounts. The 2017 count of 987 compares to 963 and 995 in 2016 and 2015, respectively, indicating no particular trend. The number involving unarmed subjects was highest in 2015 at 94, falling to 51 in 2016 and 68 in 2017. As in previous years, about 1 in 4 of the fatal shootings in 2017 involved a person in some kind of mental health distress.

Near misses

December 31, 2017

With so much attention on police shootings, one thing usually overlooked is the number of times when police could shoot, legally, but don’t. In this blog post, a retired Minneapolis officer recounts 10 incidents during his career when deadly force probably would have been justified but wasn’t used. He suspects that most police have similar stories.

Dispute over new police academy in Chicago

December 17, 2017

This article reports an ongoing debate in Chicago over plans to build a new $95 million police training academy. An earlier DOJ review documented substandard facilities, outdated curricula, and failure to provide annual training. Activists, though, argue an expensive new academy is not the best response to the city’s police problems. In addition, it’s not clear where the cash-strapped city will find the $95 million.

Coroner versus forensic pathologist

December 12, 2017

This article reports the resignation of the San Joaquin County, California forensic pathologist over disagreements with his sheriff/coroner. In 50 of the state’s counties a pathologist determines cause of death but then the sheriff/coroner has the final say on manner of death. The resigning pathologist had several deaths that he ruled homicide but which the sheriff labeled accidents, including death-in-custody cases.