Profiling in Banks County, Georgia

May 9, 2017

According to this article, the judge in a Georgia traffic stop case “determined they [two defendants, one an NBA player] were targets of racial profiling, found their traffic stop unjustified and threw out all evidence seized in the case.” The prosecutor said “randomness or coincidence could not explain the overwhelming numbers of minorities being stopped” by the sheriff’s deputy who brought the case. The deputy had been forced to resign from two previous law enforcement positions; the incident lacked any audio or video evidence but dispatch and towing records conflicted with his account.

Expanded DNA testing in NY State

May 8, 2017

This article reports that New York state labs have produced almost 1,500 investigative leads since 2012 when DNA sample collection was extended to all persons convicted of crimes, regardless of seriousness. In one example, two cold case murders were linked to a suspect when DNA from his brother, found guilty of violating a protective order, was a partial match to evidence that had been recovered from the victims. Subsequent investigation pointed to the suspect and his DNA was a match.

Operation Pacifier, 870 arrests for online child sexual abuse

May 6, 2017

This press release describes the results of a worldwide FBI & Europol investigation into online child sexual abuse on the Darknet’s Playpen site. Three site administrators were recently convicted and sentenced to 20-30 years in prison. A total of 870 arrests have been made and 259 sexually abused children have been identified or rescued.

Police affinity cards

May 5, 2017

Police in Santa Barbara have updated the trading card concept with police officer affinity cards which incorporate 4-minute videos. They describe affinity as “a feeling of closeness and understanding that someone has for another person because of their similar qualities, ideas, or interests.” Three of the cards are linked here and there is additional information and a PowerPoint link here.

Lessons learned from mass shootings

May 4, 2017

This article reviews the 2015 San Bernardino and 2016 Orlando mass shootings and subsequent police responses, along with lessons learned. It notes that “In both instances, patrol and traffic officers, investigators, and command personnel—not tactical teams—were the first law enforcement personnel to arrive on scene” and considers whether current active shooter protocols need to be adapted to fit terrorist, IED, and suicide-bomber scenarios.

All things to all people

May 4, 2017

Reflecting on the Rodney King anniversary, this essay offers a balanced perspective on police problems and solutions, noting that “Fundamentally, we want officers of the law to be three things: warriors, community workers, and sleuths.” A challenge is knowing when to wear which hat, with volatile consequences in the era of cell-phone transparency. The author warns against mission creep, arguing that we should refrain from using police “as petty tax collectors, or as a go-to source of manpower for public projects.”

Why arrest?

May 4, 2017

This short column summarizes a longer law review article focused on the police power of arrest, alternatives to arrest, and trends favoring citations, summonses, and decriminalization of minor offenses. It notes the problematic consequences that an arrest can have on the individual, family, and community but also acknowledges that “tickets, fines, fees and outstanding warrants for failure to appear can be as effective as arrests and convictions at reinforcing inequality.”

“It’s a false dichotomy”

May 1, 2017

This article provides a nice profile of Brandon del Pozo, the police chief in Burlington, Vermont. He disputes the notion “that you either have to choose the narrative of excessive urban crime or choose the narrative of brutal police, and that you’re either on the black lives matter side or the blue lives matter side … It’s a false dichotomy.”

Evidence missing in North Providence

April 30, 2017

This article reports 100+ items missing from the North Providence PD evidence room. The agency has an extensive policy on evidence storage and control, but loose security is alleged and regular audits and inventories required by the policy have not been conducted. Rhode Island has a high proportion of state and nationally accredited police departments but North Providence is not among them.

Walking the tightrope in Nashville

April 28, 2017

This article covers events in Nashville over the last 4 months with an extensive interview of Chief Steve Anderson. The city has had an officer killed, an officer-involved fatal shooting, and a critical report on racial profiling. The chief discusses the nearly impossible challenge of meeting the needs and expectations of officers, the community, and political leaders.