Posts Tagged ‘California’

Limiting vehicle stops

January 16, 2023

San Francisco has become the latest city to prohibit police from making certain types of vehicle stops. According to this article, “Police will no longer be able to stop drivers for things like driving without registration tags or broken tail lights.” The Police Commission’s rationale is “it turns out these stops, which are not making anyone safer, are also disproportionately carried out against people of color.” Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, “officers have been instructed to resume enforcing minor traffic violations — like an expired registration sticker or a poorly secured license plate — despite a 2021 ordinance to prevent them from doing so in the absence of a larger infraction.” That city’s chief commented that officers felt the ordinance was preventing them from doing their jobs, as reported here.

Traffic impunity in Nevada

July 18, 2022

Between 2017 and 2021, courts in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson in Nevada reduced more than 200,000 traffic tickets to parking violations, as reported here. This included over 80% of 95,000 speeding tickets in Las Vegas. Among these, “Deals were given to more than 400 people cited for driving more than 30 mph over, as well as about 80 people accused of going more than 40 mph over.” Reducing the tickets to parking violations meant no points on licenses. As a result, Nevada suspends driver licenses at a much lower rate than neighboring California, Idaho, and Utah. The story cites several traffic-related tragedies caused by drivers who had previously accumulated numerous tickets but evaded any consequences.

54th Mile Policing Project

June 28, 2022

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, three Black police executives, one each from California, Texas, and North Carolina, walked the historic 54-mile civil rights journey from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. Done by them for the purpose of self-reflection in troubled times, it has now been made into a short documentary film — the trailer is here. Expect to see the film used in police training and to facilitate police-community conversations.

2021 crime statistics a mess

June 13, 2022

2021 was the first year that the FBI required that crime data submitted by state and local agencies be in NIBRS format (National Incident Based Reporting System) instead of the old aggregate-style Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). NIBRS was launched back in 1988, and in 2015 the FBI announced the 2021 deadline. Unfortunately, 35% of U.S. law enforcement agencies missed the deadline, as reported here, including NYPD and LAPD and most agencies in populous California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Florida. As a result, “The data gap will make it harder to analyze crime trends and fact-check claims politicians make about crime, and we’ll likely have to live with greater uncertainty for at least a couple of years.”

Driverless taxis in San Francisco

June 9, 2022

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved Cruise, a GM-owned company, to begin operating driverless taxis in San Francisco, as reported here. The authorization allows the company to “operate its self-driving cars at night, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., at a maximum speed of 30 mph, in weather that does not include heavy rain, heavy fog, heavy smoke, hail, sleet or snow.” No word yet on how the police department will handle any traffic enforcement issues. During testing one robot taxi was pulled over for not having its headlights on, but no ticket was issued.

Place-based policing & violent crime

March 14, 2022

Amid concerns about increases in violent crime, it is important to remember that “violence is highly concentrated in small sets of people and places,” and thus it makes sense to take a targeted approach to the problem. This column argues in particular for a strategy of place-based policing, an approach that doesn’t require “passing new legislation or adding enormous budget expenditures.” Examples of crime concentration from Boston, Minneapolis, and Oakland, California are cited, along with evidence of the effectiveness of problem-oriented and hot spot policing strategies.

Use of force & injuries by K-9s

December 21, 2021

An analysis of use of force incidents in Richmond, CA indicates that dog bites accounted for 60% of the department’s significant use of force injuries over a multi-year period, as reported here. In a 3-year comparison with 20 large cities, Richmond’s rate of 34 canine bites per 100,000 population easily topped the list, while three-quarters of the cities had rates below 10. The newly available data came as a complete surprise to the city’s Community Police Review Commission — “That wasn’t even on our radar. None of these cases made the light of day.” All of the K-9 activations were deemed justified, and despite the injuries, officers point out that dog bites do less harm than bullets.

More on murders in 2020

November 1, 2021

CDC data indicate there was a 30% increase in U.S. murders in 2020, as reported here by the Pew Trust, consistent with UCR data published a few weeks ago. That one year increase was the largest since 1905, and possibly the biggest ever since reporting was less comprehensive 100+ years ago. Low-density states Montana and South Dakota had the sharpest increases at over 80%, but populous states spiked too, including New York (47%), Pennsylvania (39%), and California (36%). The proportion of murders involving firearms increased from 73% to 77%, while the clearance rate, according to FBI data, dropped from 61% to 54%. Despite the murder increase, the 2020 U.S. murder rate (7.8 per 100,000 people) remained well below the rates of suicide (13.5) and overdose (27.1). 

Uneven use of Brady lists

October 26, 2021

The Supreme Court’s 1963 Brady ruling requires prosecutors to “turn over exculpatory evidence to defense attorneys, including information that could be used to question the officers’ credibility.” According to this article, prosecutors around the country vary substantially in how they adhere to Brady. One reason is that the court’s ruling did not specify either the procedures to be followed or precisely what information might implicate an officer’s credibility. As a result, some prosecutors and police agencies, but not all, maintain lists of officers whose testimony should be avoided. Also, some include complaints of unnecessary or excessive force among the criteria affecting an officer’s credibility, while others argue that use of force and honesty are separate and independent considerations.

California raises police age & education standards

October 5, 2021

California’s governor has signed legislation raising the minimum age for police from 18 to 21 and introducing a higher education requirement, as reported here. The latter is to take effect within 4 years based on a plan to be developed by the state’s community colleges “with input from law enforcement administrators and employees, California State University representatives and community organizations.” Whether the new education standard will correspond to a 2-year or 4-year degree is to be determined, but it must include courses in “psychology, communications, history, ethnic studies, law, and those determined to develop necessary critical thinking skills and emotional intelligence.” Partial credit will be granted for police experience, military service, and other post-secondary education.