School-based drug education in Colorado

October 5, 2017

This article describes efforts in Colorado schools aimed at educating kids about drugs and healthy choices — in a state that has legalized marijuana. Both local programs and the revised DARE curriculum use interactive teaching methods and emphasize prevention science rather than “just say no.”

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LAPD recognizes bravery & restraint

September 29, 2017

This article reports the LAPD’s annual ceremony recognizing heroic actions by officers. For the second year, awards included using restraint when fatal force might have been justified, a category that was initially criticized by the police union but now seems to have gained acceptance.

“Secured by Design” yields 87% property crime reduction

September 29, 2017

A study by Police Scotland has found that 3,000 “secured by design” (SBD) residences had 1/7th the number of burglaries and thefts over a 10-year period versus comparable residences, according to this article. Information about the UK police SBD initiative is available here.

Seattle moves to control off-duty employment

September 28, 2017

The Seattle city council recently chose one of its members, Tim Burgess, to fill the remaining term of the previous mayor who suddenly resigned over criminal allegations. In his first executive order, Burgess, a former police officer, has directed the police department to establish an internal office to manage off-duty police employment, according to this article. A 2016 audit of the current system, run by third parties affiliated with the police union, led to “an ongoing FBI investigation into reports of price fixing, over charging and racketeering in connection with security and traffic control jobs performed by hundreds of Seattle police each week.”

Transparency hurdles in NY State

September 28, 2017

The NY Civil Liberties Union recently submitted freedom of information requests about policies and practices to 23 police departments around the state. According to this report, the response was widespread resistance, delay, and excessive redaction. Administrative appeals or lawsuits had to be employed for all but one agency.  In some cases, inadequate resources and poor record keeping contributed to the problem.

Who owns the streets?

September 26, 2017

This column provides a journalist’s personal account of being assaulted and detained in St. Louis on Sunday. This commentary says the events were a police riot and notes that others assaulted by police included an undercover officer and an Air Force lieutenant walking with his wife in his home neighborhood. The city’s mayor criticized police chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and the acting chief saying “we owned the night.”

New DNA applications

September 25, 2017

DNA in investigations has mainly been used to match human cells from a crime scene to a known suspect or DNA in a database, but this article describes some other emerging uses, such as identifying physical characteristics of an otherwise unknown suspect. This type of genetic analysis recently helped solve a 1992 murder case in Massachusetts, according to a prosecutor’s statement.

Impact of social media

September 21, 2017

A colloquium on “The impact of social media on crime, terrorism, and national security” recently held at Rutgers University featured law enforcement, national security, and civil liberties experts. Here is a video link to the 90-minute event.

Portland drops gang member database

September 21, 2017

This article reports that Portland, Oregon will discontinue its database of documented gang members due to criticisms about the accuracy of the information and allegations that it was misused. Similar concerns have been raised in other cities but Portland seems to be the first to end the practice that became a standard part of anti-gang programming about 30 years ago.

Graffiti crackdown in Detroit

September 20, 2017

This article describes Detroit’s “merciless” crackdown on graffiti, which has resulted in more than 50 arrests and $1.3 million in fines over the last 3 years. Hipster artists had focused on Detroit and all its abandoned buildings as a canvas waiting to be painted, but that collided with the city’s massive effort at blight eradication.