Archive for the ‘Use of Force’ Category

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.”

Drop in police shootings in Chicago

July 10, 2019

Shootings by police in Chicago dropped 70% from 2009 to 2018, from 124 per year to 37, including both “hit” and “no-hit” shootings, according to this public radio report. During the same period, incidents of police being shot at, and cases of aggravated battery committed against officers, remained about the same. Both external pressure and improved training are cited as causes for the steady decline in police shootings over the decade.

Discipline arbitration 50/50 in Minnesota

June 24, 2019

Police executives are sometimes frustrated when their disciplinary actions are overturned in arbitration. In Minnesota since 2014, 46% of 37 law enforcement officers who were fired and elected arbitration had their dismissals reversed and replaced with lesser punishment, as reported here. That rate compares to 43% for non-LE employees eligible for discipline arbitration. Union attorneys and municipal officials have different perspectives on the situation, while arbitrators say each case is decided on its merits.

Yes ma’am

June 17, 2019

Hong Kong experienced mass protests last week, resulting in riot police deployment and extensive use of tear gas. When an estimated 2 million people returned to the streets on Sunday, however, they were met by “lightly-armed officers, many of them in baseball caps or in plain clothes” including “a marked increase in the presence of female cops,” as reported here. The switch in tactics seemed to be “an acknowledgement from the police that they had been overly aggressive and sparked public fury over what was deemed a heavy-handed and an excessive use of force.”

Collaboration rather than resistance

June 10, 2019

Washington State revised its statute on police use of deadly force last year, which previously was “impossibly narrow,” prohibiting only force based on evil intent or malice. The state’s minority racial and ethnic groups worked together on the initiative and police, seeing that some legislative action was inevitable, also collaborated “to take a leadership role in negotiations to change the negative narrative surrounding policing and add clarity to proposals that may not be practical.” As reported here, police in several other states have similarly engaged with activists and political leaders instead of merely resisting any and all changes.

Scorecard on California PDs

June 8, 2019

A new state-wide “scorecard” in California rated only one police department an “A” grade while 88 cities got an “F” as reported here. Criteria included violent crime clearance rates, sustaining of citizen complaints, and use of force. Critics note several flaws in the data and rating system, but also “When you see really, really large discrepancies, which is not a scientific term, but where the difference in the use of force between one jurisdiction and the next is three or four to one, it really tells you that they should look at what they’re doing.”