Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

Mental health crisis response in Tucson

March 2, 2019

Tucson PD has a plainclothes team that helps handle incidents and follow-ups involving people in mental heath and addiction crisis, as reported here. According to the police department, “more than a third of the calls officers respond to involve someone suffering from a mental health or addiction disorder.” Police work closely with the city’s Crisis Response Center, established following a mass shooting 8 years ago that left 6 dead and 13 injured, including member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords.

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Improving recruiting

February 5, 2019

This new report presents results from projects in 21 different jurisdictions aimed at identifying police recruiting messages and processes that produce more applicants and more people following through in the hiring process. The Behavioral Insights Team helped evaluate various alternatives to determine which ones worked better than others. One finding was that “Even small changes in how jobs are advertised can make a real difference to both the total number of applicants and the diversity of those applicants.”

Rapid DNA in action

January 22, 2019

This article reports early adoption of Rapid DNA technology in Bensalem, Pennsylvania and a few other sites around the country. The equipment requires little training and returns results in 90 minutes. Scientists are generally satisfied with the accuracy of matches from cheek swabs but consider crime scene DNA much more complicated to process and interpret. A current limitation is that most machines only link to local databases, not the FBI’s national CODIS system. Critics worry that the technology will tempt police to collect DNA from anyone they deem suspicious, leading to an ever-larger DNA database susceptible to misuse.

Police shootings high in Phoenix

January 7, 2019

Phoenix PD had 38 officer-involved shootings in 2018 as of late October, with 19 fatalities. Per population, that rate was 10 times higher than Philadelphia’s, 5 times higher than Chicago’s, and more than 3 times higher than LA’s, as reported here. Activists blame the police while the officers’ union blames violent crime and suspect non-compliance. Both sides are so sure they know the reasons behind the high numbers that they criticized the city for funding an independent study, due to be completed this month.

Navajo Nation police revival

October 3, 2018

The largest tribal police force is Navajo Nation, which covers an area larger than West Virginia. The agency struggled for almost a decade without a permanent police chief, but recently re-opened its police academy and graduated a new class of officers, with another class underway, according to this article. A senior officer says homegrown policing is key: “We are from this community. We understand the language, the personalities, the puns that we have. We understand our own people better than anyone who would come in.”

Investigating hate crimes

August 26, 2018

This article reports several examples of successful investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. Reporting and documentation of hate crime is inconsistent around the country and federal prosecution is rare, so local police action is usually the key to success or failure. One reason that bias crimes often get overlooked is the element of the offender’s motivation: “Police officers, for most crimes, are not rigorously trained to look at motive. They apprehend; they take reports; they do some investigation.”

Where killings go unsolved

June 7, 2018

This article analyzes over 50,000 homicides in U.S. cities, mapping neighborhoods with higher and lower clearance rates. There are variations between cities but also within, with fewer murders solved in low-income minority neighborhoods. Factors seem to include the challenge presented by drug- and gang-related cases, reluctant witnesses, lack of trust in police, and the resources devoted to homicide investigation.

Police vs. prosecutor on transparency

May 26, 2018

This article reports push-back by Phoenix in response to their county attorney asserting control over “when and how police departments should release officer body-cam video and other evidence.” The city says “Transparency is absolutely necessary for the Phoenix Police Department to build and maintain stronger trust relationships” but the prosecutor says statutes and rules govern the release of evidence in ongoing criminal investigations.

Bad sheriffs

April 3, 2018

The U.S. has about 3,000 sheriffs, an office that goes back to colonial days and preceded the creation of police departments. This article reports numerous recent scandals, embarrassments, and shortcomings in sheriff’s offices around the country and discusses why they persist despite being an elected office that voters should be able to hold accountable.

Fear of being stopped

March 13, 2018

This article and short video, a collaboration of National Geographic and ESPN, highlight the experiences of Black drivers who have been frequently stopped by police for no apparent reason. While vehicle stops are routine for police, they can be stressful for citizens as well as family members riding with them. The article also compares stop data from several states, nearly all of which indicate disproportionate impact on drivers of color.